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Call No. 29-4.^0952 

D.G A. 79. 







Daisctz T. Suzuki 

9^"' * 


i'lrst published 1959 

erccJu-ay House, c„.er l,„ 

London, E.C .4 

Zen /? AsfL of 

■cere Buddhism and Its 

Kyoto: Eastern Buddhist Society. 1938 ^ 


Oy Bolling 

- soo: roundation Inc., New Ynrl 
Ptinted in the Unit i c 

State, of America 

Bew York, N. Y. 


THIS book was first published in Japan in 1938, with the title 
Zen Buddhism and Its Influence on Japanese Culture, by the 
Eastern Buddhist Society of Otani Buddhist University, at Kyoto, 

Since then, I have come to be better informed on the subjects 
it treats; and naturally, I have desired to rewrite the whole 
book. But to do so would involve a great deal of time and labor 
that I can ill afford in the present circumstances. What I have 
done, however, is to revise the original material only in so far 
as necessary, and add independently written chapters on such 
subjects as have happened to arouse my new concern, such as 
Swordsmanship (kendo), the Art of Tea (cha-no-yu), and the 
Haiku. As a result, repetitions have become unavoidable in some 
cases. Since the present work is not meant to be a textbook or 
a scholarly presentation, the author begs the reader’s indulgence, 
hoping that he will not find the shortcomings too obtrusive or 
too prone to interfere with the coherence of thought. 

Much of the contents originated as lectures given on various 
occasions in England and America in 1936. A section of the 
study on Love of Nature was given in Japan to a group of 
Western people in 1935, and was published in The Eastern 
Buddhist (Kyoto), VH: 1 (1936). 

As the Japanese pronunciation of Chinese characters is dif- 
ferent from the Chinese and often causes irritating confusion, 
I have tried to give in the index the original Chinese characters. 
Since my chief interest is not philological, I have perhaps not 
been entirely consistent, by present-day scholarly standards, in 

♦ ♦ • 



romanizing Japanese words and names. I have mainly used the 
forms I learned in my younger days (e.g., Kwannon, Yedo), 
but sometimes it has seemed preferable to use one of the newer 
spellings. Again I beg indulgence, particularly of more academic 
readers, to this aspect of my book. 

Besides adding the index and the bibliography, which may be 
of assistance to students, I have taken the opportunity to increase 
the number of illustrations. I acknowledge my gratitude to those 
who have made photographs available as well as data about the 
pictures. I have given what information I could obtain about 
each picture, but in some cases the complete data proved to be 
inaccessible. The references to the plates are given in the margin. 

Japanese personal names are given throughout this book in 
the way they are used in Japan, that is, with the family name 
first, except in the author’s case. 

For permission to use quotations, I gratefully acknowledge as 
follows: to the Atlantic Monthly, for passages from Juan Bel- 
monte’s essay on bullfighting; to Harcourt, Brace and Co. and 
Faber and Faber, for a quotation from T. S. Eliot’s The Waste 
Land; to Harper and Brothers, for poetic quotations from Mas- 
terpieces oj Religious Verse, edited by J. D. Morrison; to The 
Macmillan Co., for a poem by Ralph Hodgson in the same work; 
to the New American Library, for a quotation from the Isher- 
wood/Prabhavananda translation of the Bhagavad Gita, copy- 
right by the Vedanta Society of Southern California; to Dodd, 
Mead and Co., for quotations from Okakura Kakuzo’s The Book 
of Tea; and to John Murray, London, for a passage from the 
Lionel Giles translation of Lieh Tzu. 

It is with deep gratitude that I acknowledge here the debt I 
owe to the editorial staff of Bollingen Series, especially to Mr. 
and Mrs. William McGuire, who have done everything to im- 
prove my borrowed plumage and to advise me in the technique 
of editing a book. 

Neiv York, 1958 D. T. Suzuki 



Preface v 

List of Plates ix 

Chronology xxii 

I What Is Zen? i 

II General Remarks on Japanese Art Culture 19 

III Zen and the Study of Confucianism 39 

IV Zen and the Samurai 59 

V Zen and Swordsmanship I 87 

VI Zen and Swordsmanship II 137 

VII Zen and Haiku 215 

VIII Zen and the Art of Tea I 269 

IX Zen and the Art of Tea II 291 

X Rikyu and Other Teamen 315 

XI Love of Nature 329 



Appendices 397 

I Two Mondo from the “Hekigan-shu” 399 

II The Vimalakirti Sutra 410 

III “Yama-uba,” a No Play 419 

IV The Swordsman and the Cat 428 

V Chuang-tzu 436 

Bibliography 443 

Index 449 


All the subjects are in ink on paper unless otherwise noted. 

Frontispiece. Ascribed to Mu-ch’i ( Mokkei ) . Persimmons 
Late 13th century. 35 X 33.6 cm. Ryokoin Collection, 
Daitokuji Temple, Kyoto. (See p. 29 .) 

Following page 168: 

1. Liang K’ai (Ryokai). Hui-neng (Eno) cutting the bamboo 

Early 13th century. 74 X 32 cm. National Mubcum, 

Tokyo. (See p. 4 .) 

2. Joselsu. Trying to catch a catfish with a gourd (detail) 

1386. 173 X 89.7 cm. Taizoin Collection. 

Kyosokuin Temple. Kyoto. (See p. 15 .) 

3. Mu-ch’i (Mokkei). A wagtail on a withered lotus leaf 

Late 13th century. 79.4 X 30.9 cm. (See p. 22 .) 

4. Ascribed to Li Lung-mien (Ri Ryumin 1 f c. 1040-1106). 

Yuima (Vimalakirti), the Buddhist philosopher 
11th century. Painting on silk. National Museum. 

Tokyo. (See p. 411 .) 

5. Ascribed to Ma Yiian (Bayen ). A solitary angler 

Late 12th century. Slight color on silk. 27 X 50 cm. 
National Museum, Tokyo. (See p. 22 .) 



6. Yen Hui (Ganki). Diptych: Han-shan (Kanzan) and Shih- 

te (Jittoku) 

Late 12th century. (See p. 25 n.) 

7. The Myoki-an Tearoom (interior), Kyoto 

(See p. 26.) 

8 . Arrangement of flagstones at a garden corner in the Katsura 

Palace grounds, Kyoto 

(See p. 26.) 

9. Entrance to the Shokin-tei, one of the tea houses in the Kat- 

sura Palace grounds, Kyoto 

(See p. 26.) 

10. Chisho Daishi. Fudo Myoo (Acala-vidya-raja) , popularly 

known as the “Yellow Fudo” 

A.D. 838. Painting on silk. 163 X 95 cm. Itlyooin, Shiga 
Province. (See p. 29.) 

11. Fugen ( Samantabhadra) Bosatsu 

12th century. Painting on silk. 158 X 74 cm. National 
Museum. Tokyo. (See p. 29.) 

12. Liang K’ai (Ryokai). Sakya (Shaka) leaving his mountain 


Early 13th century. Slight color on silk. 119 X 52 cm. 
Private collection. (See p. 223.) 

13. Genshin Sodzu. Amida with two attendant Bodhisattvas 

Late 12th century. Painting on silk, decorated with cut 
gold leaf. H. c. 93 cm. Konkaikomyoji Temple, Kyoto. 

(See p. 29.) 

14. Mu-ch’i (Mokkei). Tiger 

Late 13th century. Ink on silk. 148.4 X 93.9 cm. 

Daitokuji Temple. Kyoto. (See p. 29.) 

15. Mu-ch’i ( Mokkei ) . Dragon 

Late 13th century. Ink on silk. 148.4 X 93.9 cm. 

Daitokuji Temple, Kyoto. (See p. 29.) 



16. Liang K’ai (Ryokai). A drunken man 

Early 13th century. Ink on silk. 21 X 18.8 cm. Private 
collection. (See p. 29.) 

17. Liang K’ai (Ryokai). Snow scene 

Early 13th century. Color on silk. Ill X 50 cm. Na- 
tional Museum, Tokyo. (See p. 29.) 

18. Yin-t’o-lo (Indara, Indra). Han-shan (Kanzan) 

Middle 14th century. 68 X 53 cm. Private collection, 
Tokyo. (See p. 25 n.) 

19. Yin-t’o-lo (Indara, Indra). Shih-te (Jittoku) 

Middle 14th century. 68 X 53 cm. Private collection, 

Tokyo. (See p. 25 n.) 

20. Shuai-weng (Sotsu-6). Hui-neng (En5) listening to the Dia- 

mond Sutra 

13th-14th centuries. 92 X 36 cm. Private collection, 

Tokyo. (See p. 126 n.) 

Inscription, by Enkei Komon (Yen-ch’i Kuang-wen, 
1189-1263) : 

The heavy load is carried on his shoulders. 

He makes no mistake in tvending his homeward steps: 

When he knows the mind that moves on, abiding no- 

He knows at whose house to deliver his kindlings. 

21. Calligraphy of Hsii-t’ang Chih-yii (Kid5 Chigu, 1185-1269) 

Early 13th century. (See p. 30.) 

A letter from Hsii-t’ang Chih-yii to his friend 
Wu-weng (Goo), the Zen master, who had been the 
first to send a message of sympathy when Hsii-t’ang’s 
temple was plundered by a band of robbers. Hsii-t’ang 
expresses his deep gratitude for his friend’s words of 
consolation, saying that he can never forget the kind- 
ness. In the preceding year he had been informed 
that Wu-weng was sick; but later, learning that the 
friend was recovering, he is relieved and congrat- 
ulates him, saying “with a man of virtue and merit, 
things are sure to take a smooth and harmonious 
turn in every way.” He goes on: “Now I am told 



that one of my head monks, Ming, is about to 
visit your place, and I hasten to write this letter of 
inquiry and friendship, and pray that everything 
continue well with you. Most respectfully yours . . 

22. Calligraphy of Ning I-shan (Nei Issan, 124-8— 1317). “Poem 

on snowy night” 

1315. 90.3 X 30.3 cm. Kenninji Collection. Kyoto. 

(See p. 30.) 

A heavy snow jail once buried Eka (Hui-k'o) up to his 
loins as he stood behind Daruma (Ta-mo) at the 
Shoshitsu (Shao-shih) ; 

Another time the snow imprisoned a company of monks 
at Gozanten (Ao-shan-tien) and happened to open 
the eyes of Seppo (Hsiieh-feng) to the truth of 

Listening to it this evening as it beats noisily and 
heavily against my windows, 

/ am induced to think of things of the long past, once 
more reviving the dreams of Ignorance. 

23. Calligraphy of Daito Kokushi. “Kanzan,” title which he 

gave to his disciple 

Early 14th century. 66.7 X 61.8 cm. Myoshinji 
Collection. Kyoto. (See p. 30.) 

The road is utterly blocked and impassable. 

Where the cold clouds like a belt encircle all the moun- 
tains around. 

Vmmons one word is impregnated with the deepest 
secrets of Zen, 

But ichen it’s squarely scrutinized it's still one thousand 
miles off the murk! 

The gdthd on the name “Kanzan” [frontier mountain) 
which is given to Gen the librarian [cr^ the testimony of 
his understanding Vmmons “Kwanl”). 

12.39, Shuhd Myoho [Daito Kokushi). 

24a. Calligraphy of Jiun Onko. “Kan-gin” (leisurely humming) 

18th century. (See p. 30.) 

24b. Calligraphy of Yiieh-chiang Cheng-yin (Gekko Shoin) 

Middle 12th century. (See p. 30.) 



A poem probably on his monastery life. Abstract: 
“I enjoy its remoteness from worldly affairs; I share 
my life with creatures and objects of nature, 
and also with my Brotherhood — though the latter may 
not be one of the best desirable, just as I cannot be 
said to equal an ancient master such as Huang-po. But 
who can say there is no one ahle to discover a 
genius among us?” 

25a. Calligraphy of Ikkyu (1396—1481) 

Late 15th century. {See p. 30.) 

Last night’s rain scattered the floivers all over the 

And the scented streams are flooding the whole village. 

25b. Calligraphy of Hakuin 

Middle 18th century. 31.1 X 81.5 cm. Private collection. 
{See p. 30.) 

A vertical combination of two Sanskrit characters in 
the siddham (shittan) style: ham and marn. They 
symbolize Acala-vidya-raja. “the immovable one.” 

26. Calligraphy of Kokwan Shiren (1278-1346) 

Late 13th century. (See p. 30.) 

A passage from a sutra: 

The world-honored one, when he was about to enter 
nirvaria, stroking his golden-colored body, said: 
You all see me now, but if you would say, “He is 
passing into a state of nonexistence” you are 
not my disciples. Nor are they my disciples who 
would say, “He is not passing into a state of non- 

27. Kao Jan-hui (K5 Zenki). Sunrise in the mountains 

14th century. Painting on silk. 50.8 X 52.6 cm. Konji-in 
Temple, Kyoto. (See p. 30.) 

28. Artist unknowTi. Muso Kokushi 

Late 13th century. Painting on silk. 120 X 54 cm. 
Obai-in Temple, Kamakura. (See p. 31.) 

• • 



29. Ma Kuei (Baki). Yao-shan (Yakusan) the Zen master, in- 

terviewing Li Ao (Ri Ko) the scholar 

12th century. Painting on silk. 113 X 47 cm. Nanzenji 

Temple, Kyoto. (5ee p. 37.) 

30. Bunsei. The three laughing sages at Hu-ch’i (Kokei) 

Middle 15th century. (See p. 31.) 

31. Shubun. Landscape 

Early 15th century. 134 X 33 cm. National Museum, 

Tokyo. (See p. 31.) 

Inscription by Son-an Reigen (Ts’un-an Ling-yen. 
1403-1588) : 

Wherever there is a stream and pleasant mountains, 
there’s my hut; 

But u'hat I like most is tvhere the bamboos are thick. 

The gate is kept closed — it is not that I don’t care to 
see companionable visitors 

But that I still have some books to read for my daily 

32. Sesshu. Landscape, autumn 

Late 15th century. 46.9 X 29.2 cm. National Museum, 

Tokyo. (See p. 31.) 

33. Sesshu. Landscape, winter 

Late 15th century. 46.9 X 29.2 cm. National Museum, 

Tokyo. (See p. 31.) 

34. Miyaguchi Ikkwansai the swordsmith at work (1957) 

(See p. 91.) 

35. Artist unknown. Takuan the Zen master 

Late 16th century. (See p. 94 n.) 

36a. Shi K’o (Sekkaku). A Zen master in meditation 

10th century. 35 X 64 cm. Shohoji Collection, Kyoto. 

(See p. 105 n.) 

36b. Calligraphy of Bukko Kokushi (1226-86) 

Late 13th century. (See p. 30.) 



The writing is a kind of public announcement which 
the writer (also called Mugaku Sogen [Wu-hsiieh 
Tsu-yiianJ) made on behalf of Ichi-6 of Chorakuji, 
whose attainment in Zen is here testified to be in full 
accordance with the writer’s. Ichi-o while in China 
studied Zen under Busshun Shihan, who was 
also the teacher of the writer. But they did not 
know each other until Sogen came to Kamakura at the 
invitation of Hojo Tokimune, who was at the time 
virtually ruler of the island empire. Signed: “Kofuku, 
1279. Mugaku Sogen.” 

37a!. Shi K’o (Sekkaku). A Zen master and a tiger 

10th century. 35 X 64 cm. Shohoji Collection, Kyoto. 

(See p. 105 n.) 

37b. Calligraphy of Takuan 

Late 16th century. Tokaiji Temple, Tokyo. (See p. 30.) 

the angry face with a broadly 
relaxing air of tenderness 

BITTER SEVERITY the compassionate heart with 
the frosty wintriness of an 
unbending spirit 

1644, Takuan 

38. Artist unknown. Miyamoto Musashi (Niten). Possibly a 


Early 17th century. Toryuji Temple, Fukuoka. (Photo- 
graphed under the direction of Taniguchi Tetsuo, 

Kyushu University.) (See p. 143 n.) 

The inscription says, in essence, that Miyamoto 
Musashi is the originator of the Nitoryu school of “two 
swords.” The writer eulogizes Musashi’s wonderful at- 
tainment in the art and describes with what 
briskness and freedom, agility and efficiency, the 
swordsman handles his swords, giving the opponent no 
chance whatever for defense once Musashi makes up his 
mind to attack. 

39. Detail of 38 



40. Hakuin’s portrait, by one of his disciples, with an inscription 

by Hakuin 

Early 18th century. (See p. 203.) 

Hakuin’s “self-eulogy”: 

In the assembly of one thousand Buddhas, the one dis- 
liked by one thousand Buddhas ; 

In the company of a multitude of demonic spirits, the 
one hated by all the demonic spirits; 

The one who would crush all the false devotees of 
“silent illumination” of the present day; 

The one who would slaughter all the blind monks ad- 
vocating the doctrine of “annihilation ” — 

Such an ugly, shabby, dim-sighted, bald-headed one 
[that he is] ! 

[As he is portrayed here), his ugliness is all the more 
aggravated, indeed! 

Hakuin was one of the greatest Zen masters and the 
most inspiring pedagogue of modern times. The survival 
of Zen in Japan today can probably be attributed 
to him. 

41. Miyamoto Musashi (Niten). Bodhidharma (Daruma) 

Early 17th century. (See p. 143 n.) 

42. Hakuin. Bodhidharma (Daruma) 

Early 18th centurj'. (See p. 203.) 

To attain Buddahood 
By seeing into the Nature. 

43. Sengai. A traveling monk with a kydku (“crazy poem”) 

Late 18th century. Private collection, Tokyo. (See 
p. 244.) 

The pilgrim’s progress is beset 
With one frontier gate after another: 

Fifty-three in all. 

Equal to the number of winds 
The horse breaks out. 

44. Miyamoto Musashi ( Niten ) . A shrike on a dead branch 

Early 17th century. 125.6 X 54.3 cm. National Museum, 
Tokyo. (5ee p. 22.) 


45. Ma Yiian (Bayen). Tung-shan (Tozan) crossing the stream 

12th century. Painting on silk. 80 X 33 cm. National 
Museum, Tokyo. (See p. 223.) 

Plates 45, 46, and 47 are three instances of satori- 
experience: Tung-shan (Tozan) while crossing the 
stream. Ling-yiin (Rei-un) while viewing the blossom, 
and Hsiang-yen (Kyogen) when a piece of stone 
struck a bamboo while he was sweeping the ground. See 
also pi. 12. 

46. Kano Motonobu. Ling-yiin (Rei-un) viewing the peach blos- 


Early 16th century. 173 X 90 cm. National Museum, 

Tokyo. {See p. 223.) 

47. Kano Motonobu. Hsiang-yen (Kydgen) and the bamboos 

Early 16th century. 174 X 136 cm. National Museum, 
Tokyo. (See p. 223.) 

48. Basho. A cottage and a banana plant, with a haiku 

Late 17th century. (See p. 238.) 

The voice of the bagicorms; 

0 come to my hut. 

And hear them cry. 

(Tr. Blyth.) 

49. Artist unknown. Portrait of Basho, with his haiku 

Late 17th century. (See p. 227.) 

It rains over all the earth; 

Still more upon the dwelling-place 
Of Sogi. 

(Tr. Blyth.) 

50. Basho. Bamboos and a haiku 

Late 17th century. (See p. 244.) 

Bending, bending. 

The ivay the bamboos keep on waiting 
For the snow ever steadily falling! 

How yieldingly the bamboos bend. 

They are waiting for more snow — 

Oh, the bamboos! 


• • 


51. Sengai. Banana plant and frog, with a haiku 

Late 18th century. Private collection, Tokyo. (See p. 


If there were a pond [around here], 

7 would jump in, and let Basho 
Hear [the plop ) ! 

52. Yosa Buson. Panels of the six-fold screen illustrating Basho’s 

Oku no Hosomichi 

1779. See Blyth, Haiku, III, pp. 441 f., for a partial 
translation. (See p. 255.) 

53. Unknown artist of the Yamatoye school. Emperor Godaigo 

(reigned 1318—1339) 

Probably late 14th century. Painting on silk. 131 X 77 
cm. Daitokuji Temple, Kyoto. (See p. 55.) 

54. View of the garden attached to the Myoki-an Tearoom, 


(See p. 26.) 

55. Hakuin. Daito Kokushi, founder of Daitokuji Temple and 

teacher of Emperor Godaigo 

Early 18th century. (See p. 300.) 

Wrapping himself in a strata mat. 

He tried to hide himself among the beggars; 

And he is captured alive. 

Just because of his greed for the melon. 

If you peel the melon ivithout using the hands. 

Yes, indeed, I might come here without using the 

56. Artist unknown. Daito Kokushi 

1334. (See p. 300.) 

57. Bokusai. Ikkyu the Zen master (1394-1481) 

Late 15th century. 43 X 242 cm. National Museum, 

Tokyo. (See p. 272.) 

Ikkyu’s own “eulogy”: 



Keso’s descendants know nothing of Zen; 

Who dares talk about Zen in front of Kyoun? 

For thirty years my shoulders have borne the heavy 
load — 

It is I, a lone person, who is upholding Shagen’s Zen. 

Ikkyu, who sometimes called himself “Kyoun” (a cloud 
gone mad), was a strange personality. He strongly 
protested against the Zen of his contemporaries. He 
thought he was the only one who could teach Zen as 
it ought to be taught, hence this diatribe and “self- 

58. Sengai. The three laughing sages at Hu-ch’i (Kokei), with a 

thirty-one-syllable poem 

Late 18th century. Private collection, Tokyo. {See p. 


What are they laughing at? 

The clouds making no votes, 

In the morning, in the evening. 

How easily they pass over 

The stone bridge spanning the valley. 

59. Artist unknown. Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98), with in- 

scription by Hideyoshi’s young son Hideyori 

Early 17th century. (See p. 301.) 

Hideyori has written his father’s posthumous name: 
Toyokuni Daimyojin, “The Great Illuminating God of 
the Prosperous Land.” The two poems in Japanese 
refer to the “dream” and “dewdrop” mentioned in 
Hideyoshi’s farewell poem. (5ee p. 303 n.) 

60. Hakuin. The three sages tasting vinegar 

Early 18th century. {See p. 203.) 

The three teachings agree in one point. 

In one point the three teachings agree. 

What is it after all? 

The limit is absolute good. 

61. Enkai. Prince Shotoku 

1069. Wood. H. c. 109 cm. 

Yumedono, Horyuji Temple, Nara. {See p. 410.) 



62. Calligraphy of Ryokwan (1758—1831). “Shin-gachi-rin” 

(Mind-moon-circle), a theme for contemplation 

18th or early 19th century. Engraving on wood potlid. 

(See p. 30.) 

63. Sengai. A contented man in the summer evening with a 


Late 18th century. Private collection, Tokyo. (See 
p. 244.) 

Just because we are 

In the midst of good and evil. 

We enjoy this cool! 

In certain districts “reed” is yoshi, which also means 
“good,” in other districts ashi, “bad”: hence 
Sengai’s play on w'ords. 

64. Ascribed to Wu Tao-tzu (Godoshi). Kwannon 

Early 8th century. Painting on silk. 226 X 125 cm. 

Daitokuji Temple, Kyoto. (See p. 252.) 

Following page 32: 

A. Soga Jasoku. The Daruma triptych: Lin-chi (Rinzai), Zen 

master of the 9th century; Bodhidharma (Daruma); 
and Te-shan (Tokusan), also of the 9th century 
Late 15th century, h. 87 cm. Yotokuin Temple, Kyoto. 

(See p. 31.) 

Following page 368: 

B. Artist unknown. The Buddha entering into Nirvana 

Early 18th century. Woodblock print, printed by 
Munakata Shiko. 60 X 104 cm. Suzuki Collection. (See 
p. 377.) 

In upper right. Queen Maya, the mother of the 
Buddha, with her handmaidens. She has thrown down a 
bag of medicine, which has caught on a tree at the left 
of the Buddha. Below and to her left is the Buddha’s 
disciple MahakasVapa, who arrived too late. The 
mourners include human and nonhuman beings and 
animals, and the trees have burst into bloom. 



Following page 384: 

C. Mu-ch’i (Mokkei). Triptych: Mother monkey; Kwannon; and 


Late 13th century. Ink on siJk. 

Respectively 174.5 X 98.7 cm.. 173 X 97.8 cm., 

174.5 X 99 cm. Daitokuji Temple, Kyoto. (See 
p. 379.) 

Following page 400: 

D. Kuzumi Morikage. A family of three under the gourd trellis, 

looking at the summer moon 

Middle 17th century. 149 X 166 cm. National Museum, 

Tokyo. (See p. 393.) 



Prehistoric Period 

JOMON NEOLITHIC CULTURE; 2nd millennium B.c.-3rd century B.c. 

YAYOl BRONZE culture: 3rd century B.c.-3rd century a.d. 

PERIOD OF THE GREAT TOMBS; 3rd-6th centuries a.d. 

A suka Period: 538-671 

Introduction of Buddhism. Formation of Yamato state 

Nara Period: 672-780 

early nara or hakuho: 672-710. late nara or tempyo: 710-780 
Capital established at Heijokyo (Nara) in 710 

Heian Period: 781-1184 


Capital established at Heiankyo (Kyoto) in 794 

Kamakura Period: 1185-1338 

Rule of Minamoto and Hojb Shoguns at Kamakura 1274 and 1281: 

attempted invasion of Japan by the Mongols 

Ashikaga Period: 1338-1568 

Rule of Ashikaga Shoguns at Kyoto. 1543, arrival of Portuguese 

Momoyama Period: 1568-1614 

Dictators; Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa 

Tokugaiva Period: 1615-1867 

Rule of Tokugawa Shoguns at Tokyo 

1637-1638: Shimabara rebellion. Expulsion of the Portuguese 
Ports closed to foreign ships. Japanese forbidden to go abroad 


1640; Dutch confined in Deshima. Other Europeans excluded 
1867-1868: Feudalism abolished and monarchy restored 

Meiji and Taisho Periods: 1868-1911; 1912-1926 

Imperial rule from Tokyo 


Japanese forms in parentheses 

Shang or Yin (In) Dynasty: 

C. 1766-1027 B.C. 

Chou {Shu) Dynasty: 

II22-255 B.C. 

Ch’in (Shin) Dynasty: 

221-206 B.C. 

Han (Kan) Dynasty: 

206 B.C.-A.D. 23 

Later Han (Gokan) Dynasty: 


The Three Kingdoms (San-goku) : 


Western Chin (Sei-shin)) 

> Dynasties: 

Eastern Chin (Td-shin) J 


Northern and Southern Dynasties (Nambokii-cho) : 420-581 

Sui (Zui) Dynasty; 


Tang {To) Dynasty: 

6 1 8-906 

Five Dynasties {Godai) : 


Northern Sung {So) Dynasty: 


Southern Sung {Nanso) Dynasty: 

1 1 27-1 279 

Chin {Kin) Dynasty: 

1 1 15-1234 

Yiian {Gen) Dynasty: 


Ming {Min) Dynasty: 


Ch’ing {Shin) Dynasty: 


Republic {Minkoku ) : 


What Is Zen? 


B efore I proceed to write about the influence of Zen on 
Japanese culture, I must explain what Zen is, for it is 
possible that my present readers may not know anything about 
it. As I have already written some books on Zen, however, I 
will not go into a detailed presentation here. 

Briefly, Zen is one of the products of the Chinese mind after 
its contact with Indian thought, which was introduced into China 
in the first century A.D. through the medium of Buddhist teach- 
ings. There were some aspects of Buddhism in the form in which 
it came to China that the people of the Middle Kingdom did not 
quite kindly cherish; for instance, its advocacy of a homeless 
life, its transcendentalism or world-fleeing and life-denying tend- 
ency, and so on. At the same time, its profound philosophy, its 
subtle dialectics and penetrating analyses and speculations, 
stirred Chinese thinkers, especially the Taoists. 

Compared with Indians, the Chinese people are not so very 
philosophically-minded. They are rather practical and devoted 
to worldly affairs; they are attached to the earth, they are not 
stargazers. While the Chinese mind was profoundly stimulated 
by the Indian way of thinking, it never lost its touch with the 
plurality of things, it never neglected the practical side of our 
daily life. This national or racial psychological idiosyncrasy 
brought about the transformation of Indian Buddhism into Zen 

One of the first things Zen accomplished in China, as soon 
as it had gathered its forces and was strong enough to stand 

• * 



by itself, was to establish a special form of monasticism quite 
distinct from the older kind of monkish living. The Zen monas- 
tery became a self-governing body divided into so many depart- 
ments, each of which had its own office to serve the community. 
A note^s'orthy feature of this institution was the principle of 
complete democracy. While the elders were naturally respected, 
all members were equally to engage in manual labor, such as 
t] gathering fuel, cultivating the land, and picking tea leaves. In 
this even the master himself joined, and while working with his 
brotherhood he guided them to the proper understanding of Zen. 

This way of living significantly distinguished the Zen monas- 
tery from the sahgha brotherhood of the earlier Buddhists of 
India. The Zen monks were not only democratic; they were 
willing to employ themselves in all the practical ways of life. 
They were thus economically-minded as well as politically- 

In metaphysics Zen absorbed much of Taoist teachings modi- 
fied by Buddhist speculations. But in its practical conduct of 
life, it completely ignored both the Taoist transcendentalism 
and the Indian aloofness from productive life. When a Zen 
master was asked what his future life would be, he unhesitatingly 
answered, “Let me be a donkey or a horse and work for the 

Another departure from the older pattern of monkish brother- 
hood, whether Christian or Buddhist or anything else, was that 
the Zen monks were not always engaged in offering prayers, 
practicing penance, or performing other so-called deeds of piety, 
nor in reading or reciting the canonical books, discussing their 
contents, or studying them under the master, individually or 
collectively. What the Zen monks did, besides attending to vari- 
ous practical affairs, both manual and menial, was to listen 
to the master’s occasional sermons, which were short and cryptic, 
and to ask questions and get answers. The answers, how^ever, 
were bizarre and full of incomprehensibles, and they were quite 
frequently accompanied by direct actions. 



I will cite one of such examples — perhaps an extreme one. 
Though it did not take place between master and monk but 
between monks themselves, it will illustrate the spirit of Zen 
which prevailed in its earlier days, towards the end of the T'ang 
dynasty. A monk, coming out of the monastery that was under 
the leadership of Rinzai ( Lin-chi, d. 867 1 . met a party of three 
traveling monks belonging to another Buddhist school, and one 
of the three ventured to question the Zen monk; “How deep is 
the river of Zen?” The reference to the river arose from their 
encounter taking place on a bridge. The Zen monk, fresh from 
his own interview’ with Rinzai, wdio was noted for his direct 
actions, lost no time in replying. “Find out for yourself,” he said, 
and offered to throw the questioner from the bridge. But for- 
tunately his two friends interceded and pleaded for mercy, which 
saved the situation. 

Zen is not necessarily against words, but it is well aware of 
the fact that they are always liable to detach themselves from 
realities and turn into conceptions. And this conceptualization 
is w’hat Zen is against. The Zen monk just cited may be an 
extreme case, but the spirit is there. Zen insists on handling the 
thing itself and not an empty abstraction. It is for this reason 
that Zen neglects reading or reciting the sutras ^ or engaging 
in discourse on abstract subjects. And this is a cause of Zen’s 
appeal to men of action in the broadest sense of the term. 
Through their practical-mindedness, the Chinese people and also 
to a certain extent the Japanese have taken greatly to Zen. 


Z E N is discipline in enlightenment. Enlightenment means eman- 
cipation. And emancipation is no less than freedom. We talk 
very much these days about all kinds of freedom, political, 
economic, and otherwise, but these freedoms are not at all real. 
^ Collections of sermons given by the Buddha. 


As long as they are on the plane of relativity, the freedoms or 
liberties we glibly talk about are far from being such. The real 
freedom is the outcome of enlightenment. When a man realizes 
this, in whatever situation he may find himself he is always free 
in his inner life, for that pursues its own line of action. Zen is 
the religion of jiyu (tzu-yu), “self-reliance,” and jizai (tzu- 
tsai), “self-being.” 

Enlightenment occupies the central point of teaching in all 
schools of Buddhism, Hinayana and Mahayana, “self-power” 
and “other-power,” the Holy Path and the Pure Land, because 
the Buddha’s teachings all start from his enlightenment experi- 
ence, about 2,500 years ago in the northern part of India. Every 
Buddhist is, therefore, expected to receive enlightenment either in 
this world or in one of his future lives. Without enlightenment, 
either already realized or to be realized somehow and some- 
time and somewhere, there will be no Buddhism. Zen is no 
exception. In fact, it is Zen that makes most of enlightenment, 
or satori {ivu in Chinese). 

To realize satori, Zen opens for us two ways in general: 
verbal and actional. 

Eirst, Zen verbalism is quite characteristic of Zen, though it 
is so completely differentiated from the philosophy of linguistics 
or dialectics that it may not be correct to apply the term “ver- 
balism” to Zen at all. But, as we all know, we human beings 
cannot live without language, for we are so made that we can 
sustain our existence only in group life. Love is the essence 
of humanity, love needs something to bestow itself upon; hu- 
man beings must live together in order to lead a life of mutual 
love. Love to be articulate requires a means of communication, 
which is language. Inasmuch as Zen is one of the most significant 
human experiences, one must resort to language to express it 
to others as well as to oneself. But Zen verbalism has its own 
features, which violate all the rules of the science of linguistics. 
In Zen, experience and expression are one. Zen verbalism ex- 
presses the most concrete experience. 



To give examples: A Zen master produces his staff before 
his congregation and declares: “You do not call it a staff. What 
would you call it?” Someone comes out of the audience, takes 
the master’s staff away from him, breaks it into two, and throws 
it down. All this is the outcome of the master’s illogical an- 

Another master, holding up his staff, says: “If you have one, 
I give you mine; if you have none, I will take it away from 
you.” There is no rationalism in this. 

Still another master once gave this sermon: “When you know 
what this staff is, you know all, you have finished the study of 
Zen.” Without further remark he left the hall. 

This is what I call Zen verbalism. The philosophy of Zen 
comes out of it. The philosophy, however, is not concerned to 
elucidate all these verbal “riddles” but to reach the mind 
itself, w'hich, as it were, exudes or secretes them as naturally, 
as inevitably, as the clouds rise from the mountain peaks. What 
concerns us here is not the substance thus exuded or secreted, 
that is, w'ords or language, but a “something” hovering around 
there, though we cannot exactly locate it and say “Here!” To 
call it the mind is far from the fact of experience; it is an 
unnamable “X.” It is no abstraction; it is concrete enough, and 
direct, as the eye sees that the sun is, but it is not to be subsumed 
in the categories of linguistics. As soon as we try to do this, 
it disappears. The Buddhists, therefore, call it the “unattaina- 
ble,” the “ungraspable.” 

It is for this reason that a staff is a staff and at the same time 
not a staff, or that a staff is a staff just because it is not a staff. 
The word is not to be detached from the thing or the fact or 
the experience. 

The Zen masters have the saying, “Examine the living w’ords 
and not the dead ones.” The dead ones are those that no longer 
pass directly and concretely and intimately on to the experience. 
They are conceptualized, they are cut off from the living roots. 
They have ceased, then, to stir up my being from within, from 



itself. They are no more what the masters would call “the one 
word” which when understood leads immediately to the under- 
standing of hundreds of thousands of other words or statements 
given by the Zen masters. Zen verbalism deals with these “living 


THE SECOND disciplinary approach to the experience of en- 
lightenment is actional. In a sense, verbalism is also actional as 
long as it is concrete and personal. But in the actional what we 
call “the body,” according to our sense testimony, is involved. 
When Rinzai was asked what the essence of Buddhist teaching 
was. he came right down from his seat and, taking hold of the 
questioner by the front of his robe, slapped bis face, and let 
him go. The questioner stood there, stupefied. The bystanders 
remarked, “Why don’t you bow?” This woke him from his 
reverie; and when he was about to make a bow to the master, 
he had his satori.' 

When Baso (Ma-tsu, d. 788) took a walk with Hyakujo 
(Pai-chang), one of his attendant monks, he noticed the wild 
geese flying. He asked, “Where are they flying?” Hyakujo 
answered, “They are already flown away.” Baso turned around 
and, taking hold of Hyakujo’s nose, gave it a twist. Hyakujo 
cried, “It hurts, 0 Master!” “Who says they are flown away?” 
was the master's retort.^ This made Hyakujo realize that the mas- 
ter was not talking at all about the conceptualized geese disap- 
pearing far away in the clouds. The master’s purpose was to call 
Hyakujo’s attention to the living goose that moves along with 
Hyakujo himself, not outside but within his person. 

This person is Rinzai’s “true man in all nakedness going 

- The Sayings of Rinzai. 

^ The Hekigan-shu cLTue Rock Collection”), case 53. For a fuller explana- 
tion of this book, sec p. 399 n. 



in and out through your senses.” I wonder if this is symbolized 
in that "third man” who is often referred to by some modern 
writers as walking “beside you” or “on the other side of you” 
or “liehind you.” ’ 

We may say this is a practical lesson, teaching by action, 
learning by doing. There is something like it in the actional 
approach to enlightenment. But a direct action in Zen has an- 
other meaning. There is a deeper purpose which consists in 
awakening in the disciple’s mind a certain consciousness that 
is attuned to the pulsation of Reality. The following story is in 
a somewhat different vein; it simply illustrates how important 
it is to grasp a trick by going through a practical situation 
oneself without any outside aid. It exemplifies the pedagogic 
methodology of Zen’s spirit of "self-reliance.” This is in perfect 
accord with the teaching of the Buddha and other masters: “Do 
not rely on others, nor on the reading of the sutras and sastras.” 
Be your own lamp.” 

Goso Hoyen |\^u-tsu Fa-yen, d. 1104). of the Sung dynasty, 
tells us the following to illustrate the Zen spirit that goes beyond 
intellect, logic, and verbalism: 

“If people ask me what Zen is like, I will say that it is like 

In The W'aste Land (V, 359-65 », T. S. Eliot give-^ tliis cie^crij)tion of 
the angui'sh of tlie ai)ostle> after Cahary: 

Who is the third who walks aluays beside \ou? 

When I count, there are only you and I together 
But iihen I look ahead up the ivliite road 
There is always another one walking beside you 
Gliding wrapt in a broiin mantle, hooded 
I do not know whether a man or a uoman 
— But liho IS that on the other side of you'-^ 

Eliot remark^ in hi-? notes tliat thc'-e lines were suggested by the account of 
an Antarctic expedition: *’The explorers, at the extremity of their •?trength, 
had the con-tant deJu-ion that there was one more member than cuuhl actually 
be cnuiited." \ Complete Poems and Plays, pjj. 48, 54.1 

'I'he idea of a tliird pci son i'=^ significant. Can we take it fur the hal- 
lucinaton' projection of RinzaE'^ ‘‘true man,'* which as'^ume- an (tbjecti\e form 
when one's jilA^ical -^trcngtli reaches the jioint of exhaUstiuirr' This, however, 
seems to lie a '^omcwliat wild •'iigge-tion. 

The philosophical discourses. 



learning the art of burglary. The son of a burglar saw his 
father growing older and thought, Tf he is unable to carry on 
his profession, who will be the breadwinner of the family, except 
myself? I must learn the trade.’ He intimated the idea to his 
father, who approved of it. 

‘'One night the father took the son to a big house, broke 

through the fence, entered the house, and, opening one of the 

large chests, told the son to go in and pick out the clothing. As 
soon as the son got into it, the father dropped the lid and se- 
curely applied the lock. The father no-w came out to the court- 
yard and loudly knocked at the door, waking up the whole 
family; then he quietly slipped away by the hole in the fence. 
The residents got excited and lighted candles, but they found 
that the burglar had already gone. 

“The son, who had remained all the time securely confined in 
the chest, thought of his cruel father. He was greatly mortified, 
then a fine idea flashed upon him. He made a noise like the 

gnawing of a rat. The family told the maid to take a candle 

and examine the chest. When the lid was unlocked, out came 
the prisoner, who blew out the light, pushed away the maid, 
and fled. The people ran after him. Noticing a well by the road, 
he picked up a large stone and threw it into the water. The 
pursuers all gathered around the well trying to find the burglar 
drowning himself in the dark hole. 

“In the meantime he went safely hack to his father’s house. 
He blamed his father deeply for his narrow escape. Said the 
father, ‘Be not offended, my son. Just tell me how you got out 
of it.’ When the son told him all about his adventures, the 
father remarked, ‘There you are. you have learned the art.’ ” 

The idea of the story is to demonstrate the futility of verbal 
instruction and conceptual presentation as far as the experience 
of enlightenment is concerned. Satori must be the outgrowth 
of one’s inner life and not a verbal implantation brought from 
the outside. 

The Sayings of Guso Hoyen. 




THERE is a famous saying given by one of the earlier masters of 
the T’ang dynasty, which declares that the Tao is no more than 
one’s everyday-life experience. When the master was asked 
what he meant by this, he replied, “When you are hungry you 
eat, when you are thirsty you drink, when you meet a friend 
you greet him.” 

This, some may think, is no more than animal instinct or 
social usage, and there is nothing that may be called moral, 
much less spiritual, in it. If we call it the Tao, some may think, 
what a cheap thing the Tao is after ail! 

Those who have not penetrated into the depths of our con- 
sciousness, including both the conscious and the unconscious, are 
liable to hold such a mistaken notion as the one just cited. But 
we must remember that, if the Tao is something highly abstract 
transcending our daily experiences, it will have nothing to do 
with the actualities of life. Life as we live it is not concerned with 
generalization. If it were, the intellect would be everything, and 
the philosopher would be the wisest man. But, as Kierkegaard 
points out, the philosopher builds a fine palace, but he is doomed 
not to live in it — he has a shed for himself next door to what 
he constructed for others, including himself, to look at. 

Mencius says, “The Tao is near and people seek it far away.” 
This means that the Tao is our everyday life itself. And, indeed, 
it is due to this fact that the Tao is so hard to grasp, so elusive to 
point out. How elusive! How ungraspable! “The Tao that 
can at all be predicated is not the Tao of always-so-ness 
{Ch’ang tao) 

The Tao is really very much more than mere animal instinct 
and social usage, though those elements are also included in it. 
It is something deeply imbedded in every one of us, indeed in 
all beings sentient and nonsentient, and it requires something 
altogether different from the so-called scientific analysis. It 



defies our intellectual pursuit because of being too concrete, too 
familiar, hence beyond definability. It is there confronting us. no 
doubt, but not obtrusively and threateningly, like Mount Everest 
to the mountain-climbers. 

‘‘What is Zen?” ( This is tantamount to asking. ‘‘What is 

“1 do not understand.” ivas one master’s answer. 

‘•What is Zen?” 

“The silk fan gives me enough of a cooling breeze,” was 
another master’s answer. 

“What is Zen?” 

“Zen,” was still another’s response. 

Perhaps Lao-tzu’s description may be more approachable for 
most of us than those of the Zen masters: 

The Tao is something vague and undefinable; 

Hoiv undefinable! How vague! 

Yet in it there is a form. 

Hole vague! How undefinable! 

Yet in it there is a thing. 

Hoiv obscure! How deep! 

Yet in it there is a substance. 

The substance is genuine 

And in it sincerity. 

From of old until now 

Its name never departs. 

Whereby it inspects all things.’ 

Hoiv do I know all things in their suchness? 

It is because of this.^ 

"When the name does not depart, as we usually make it do, from the 
substance to which it is undetachably fi\f‘d, the name is the substance and 
the substance the name. There is a perfect identity. And thereby as soon as 
the "name” is pronounced, the substance, that is, the All, is "inspected,” not 
in Its abstraction, but in its "sincerity” and concreteness. 

Tao Tc Ching, Ch. XXI. l\^hen no translator’s name is specified, the 
translations from the Chinese or the Japanese texts throughout this book are 
the author’s. J 



The object of Zen training consists in making us realize that 
Zen is our daily experience and that it is not something put in 
from the outside. Tenno Dogo (T’ien-huang Tao-wu, 748—807) 
illustrates the point most eloquently in his treatment of a novice 
monk, while an unknown Japanese swordmaster demonstrates it 
in the more threatening manner characteristic of his profession. 
Tenno Dogo’s story runs as follows: 

Dogo had a disciple called Soshin f Ch’ung-hsin ) . When 
Soshin was taken in as a novice, it was perhaps natural of him to 
expect lessons in Zen from his teacher the way a schoolboy is 
taught at school. But Dogo gave him no special lessons on the 
subject, and this bewildered and disappointed Soshin. One day 
he said to the master, ‘Tt is some time since I came here, but 
not a word has been given me regarding the essence of the Zen 
teaching.” D5go replied, ‘‘Since your arrival I have ever been 
giving you lessons on the matter of Zen discipline.” 

“What kind of lesson could it have been?” 

“When you bring me a cup of tea in the morning, I take it; 
when you serve me a meal, I accept it; when you bow to me, I 
return it with a nod. How else do you expect to be taught in 
the mental discipline of Zen?” 

Soshin hung his head for a while, pondering the puzzling 
words of the master. The master said, “If you want to see, see 
right at once. When you begin to think, you miss the point.” 

The swordsman’s story is this: 

When a disciple came to a master ^ to be disciplined in the 
art of swordplay, the master, who was in retirement in his moun- 
tain hut, agreed to undertake the task. The pupil was made to 
help him gather kindling, draw water from the nearby spring, 
split wood, make fires, cook rice, sweep the rooms and the 

^ Was he Tsukahara Bokuclen (1490-1572), who flourished during the 
Ashikaga era? I do not rt'momber where I read the story, and at present 
I have no means of confirming it. 



garden, and generally look after his household. There was no 
regular or technical teaching in the art. After some time the 
young man became dissatisfied, for he had not come to work as 
servant to the old gentleman, but to learn the art of swordsman- 
ship. So one day he approached the master and asked him to 
teach him. The master agreed. 

The result was that the young man could not do any piece 
of work with any feeling of safety. For when he began to cook 
rice early in the morning, the master would appear and strike 
him from behind with a stick. When he was in the midst of his 
sweeping, he would be feeling the same sort of blow from some- 
where, some unknown direction. He had no peace of mind, he 
had to be always on the qui vive. Some years passed before he 
could successfully dodge the blow from wherever it might come. 
But the master was not quite satisfied with him yet. 

One day the master was found cooking his own vegetables 
over an open fire. The pupil took it into his head to avail him- 
self of this opportunity. Taking up his big stick, he let it fall 
over the head of the master, who was then stooping over the 
cooking pan to stir its contents. But the pupil’s stick was 
caught by the master with the cover of the pan. This opened the 
pupil’s mind to the secrets of the art, which had hitherto been 
kept from him and to which he had so far been a stranger. He 
then, for the first time, appreciated the unparalleled kindness of 
the master. 

The secrets of perfect swordsmanship consist in creating a 
certain frame or structure of mentality which is made always 
ready to respond instantly, that is, im-mediately, to what comes 
from the outside. While technical training is of great impor- 
tance, it is after all something artificially, consciously, calculat- 
ingly added and acquired. Unless the mind that avails itself of 
the technical skill somehow attunes itself to a state of the utmost 
fluidity or mobility, anything acquired or superimposed lacks 
spontaneity of natural growth. This state prevails when the mind 
is awakened to a satori. What the swordsman aimed at was to 



make the disciple attain to this realization. It cannot be taught 
by any system specifically designed for the purpose, it must 
simply grow from within. The master’s system was really no sys- 
tem in the proper sense. But there was a “natural” method in 
his apparent craziness, and he succeeded in awakening in his 
young disciple’s mind something that touched off the mechanism 
needed for the mastery of swordsmanship. 

Dogo the Zen master did not have to be attacking his disciple 
all the time with a stick. The swordsman’s object was more 
definite and limited to the area of the sword, whereas Dogo 
wanted to teach by getting to the source of being from which 
everything making up our daily experience ensues. Therefore, 
when Soshin began to reflect on the remark Dogo made to him, 

Dogo told him: “No reflecting whatever. When you want to see, 
see im-mediately. As soon as you tarry [that is, as soon as an 
intellectual interpretation or mediation takes place], the whole 
thing goes awry.” This means that, in the study of Zen, con- 
ceptualization must go, for as long as we tarry at this level we 
can never reach the area where Zen has its life. The door of en- 
lightenment-experience opens by itself as one finally faces the 
deadlock of intellectualization. 

The slipperiness or elusiveness of the truth or reality or, shall 
I say, God, when one tries to get hold of it or him by means of 
concepts or intellection, is like trying to catch a catfish with a 
gourd. This is aptly illustrated by Josetsu, a Japanese painter of 
the fifteenth century. The picture of his which is reproduced 
among our illustrations is a well-known one; as we notice, the [2 
upper part of it is filled with poems composed by renowned Zen 
masters of the day. 




w E \ O w can state a few things about Zen in a more or less 
summary way: 

( 1 ) Zen discipline consists in attaining enlightenment ( or 
satori, in Japanese). 

1 2 ) Satori finds a meaning hitherto hidden in our daily con- 
crete particular experiences, such as eating, drinking, or busi- 
ness of all kinds. 

( 3 ) The meaning thus revealed is not something added from 
the outside. It is in being itself, in becoming itself, in living 
itself. This is called, in Japanese, a life of kono-mama or sono- 
mama?^' Kono- or sono-mania means the "isness” of a thing, 
Reality in its isness. 

(4) Some may say, ‘'There cannot be any meaning in mere 
isness.” But this is not the view held by Zen. for according to it, 
isness is the meaning. When I see into it I see it as clearly as I 
see myself reflected in a mirror. 

( 5 I This is w hat made Ho Koji I P'ang Chii-shih ) . a lay dis- 
ciple of the eighth century, declare: 

ffoic icondrous this, how mysterious! 

I carry fuel, I draw water. 

The fuel-carrying or the water-drawing itself, apart from its 
utilitarianism, is full of meaning; hence its “wonder,” its “mys- 

( 6 ) Zen does not, therefore, indulge in abstraction or in con- 
ceptualization. In its verbalism it may sometimes appear that 
Zen does this a great deal. But this is an error most commonly 
entertained by those who do not at all know Zen. 

( 7 ) Satori is emancipation, moral, spiritual, as well as intel- 

Kono is sono ’‘’that,” and mama nipan-? Kono-mama or 

sono-mama thu^ corresponds to the San^krit tathata, ‘■‘suchness,” and to the 
Chine-'C rhih-mo or shih-mo. 

WHAT IS Z E ^ ? 


lectual. When I am in my isness. thoroughly purged of all intel- 
lectual sediments. I have my freedom in its primary sense. 

(8) When the mind, now abiding in its isness — which, to use 
Zen verbalism, is not isness — and thus free from intellectual 
complexities and moralistic attachments of every description, sur- 
veys the world of the senses in all its multiplicities, it discovers in 
it all sorts of values hitherto hidden from sight. Here opens to 
the artist a world full of wonders and miracles. 

(9) The artist’s world is one of free creation, and this can 
come only from intuitions directly and im-mediately rising from 
the isness of things, unhampered by senses and intellect. He 
creates forms and sounds out of formlessness and soundlessness. 
To this extent, the artist’s world coincides with that of Zen. 

(10) What differentiates Zen from the arts is this; While the 
artists have to resort to the canvas and brush 01 mechanical in- 
struments or some other mediums to express themselves. Zen 
has no need of things external, except ‘’the body" in which the 
Zen-man is so to speak embodied. From the absolute point of 
view this is not quite correct; I say it only in concession to the 
worldly w'ay of saying things. W’hat Zen does is to delineate it- 
self on the infinite canvas of time and space the way the flying 
wild geese cast their shadow on the water below without any idea 
of doing so, while the water reflects the geese just as naturallv 
and unintentionally. 

ill) The Zen-man is an artist to the extent that, as the sculp- 
tor chisels out a great figure deeply buried in a mass of inert 
matter, the Zen-man transforms his own life into a work of crea- 
tion, which exists, as Christians might say. in the mind of God.‘^ 

After writing the above I feel somewhat uiiea>y le-^t my readers may 
not be able to comprehend what Zen means to iis of modern time. Everything 
of life nowadays shows the tendency to turn into a ctmijtlete routine of 
mechanization, leaving nothing that will demonstrate the dignity and de~tiny 
of human existence. Hence the two extracts from tlie /fe/. iguu-.v/iH (“llluc 
Rock Collection’") and an abstract of the Yuima K\d ( "Vimalakirti Sutra” i, 
which make up the first part of the appendice'>. Tho'-e vslio v\i.-h to pursue 
the study of Zen Buddhism further are advised to consult the work'^ of the 
pre‘~ent author on the subject. See the bibliocraphy. 


With this preliminary, I wish to treat in the following pages 
the part Zen Buddhism has played in the molding of Japanese 
culture and character, especially as exhibited in the arts gen- 
erally, and particularly in the development of Bushido (“the 
way of the warrior”), in the study and propagation of Con- 
fucianism and general education, in the rise of the art of tea, 
and also in the composition of a form of poetry known as 
haiku; while incidentally some other points will be touched 


General Remarks 
on Japanese Art Culture 


H aving noted the foregoing specifications of the atmos- 
phere emanating from Zen, we may now proceed to see 
what contributions Zen has made to the building up of Japanese 
culture. It is a significant fact that the other schools of Buddhism 
have limited their sphere of influence almost entirely to the 
spiritual life of the Japanese people; Zen has gone beyond it. 
Zen has entered internally into every phase of the cultural life 
of the people. 

In China this was not necessarily the case. Zen united itself 
to a great extent with Taoist beliefs and practices and with the 
Confucian teaching of morality, but it did not affect the cultural 
life of the people so much as it did in Japan. ( Is it due to the 
racial psychology of the Japanese people that they have taken up 
Zen so intensely and deeply that it has entered intimately into 
their life? ) In China, however, I ought not omit to mention the 
noteworthy fact that Zen gave great impetus to the development 
of Chinese philosophy in the Sung dynasty and also to the growth 
of a certain school of painting. A large number of examples of 
this school were brought over to Japan beginning with the Kama- 
kura era in the thirteenth century, when Zen monks were con- 
stantly traveling between the two neighboring countries. Tbe 
paintings of Southern Sung thus came to find their ardent 
admirers on our side of the sea and are now national treasures 
of Japan, while in China no specimens of this class of painting 
are to be found. 



Before proceeding further, we may make a few general re- 
marks about one of the peculiar features of Japanese art, which 
is closely related to and finally deducible from the world con- 
ception of Zen. 

Among things which strongly characterize Japanese artistic 
talents we may mention the so-called “one-corner” style, which 
originated with Bayen (Ma Yiian, fl. 1175—1225), one of the 
greatest Southern Sung artists. The “one-corner” style is 
psychologically associated with the Japanese painters’ “thrifty 
5] brush” tradition of retaining the least possible number of lines or 
strokes which go to represent forms on silk or paper. Both are 
very much in accord with the spirit of Zen. A simple fishing 
boat in the midst of the rippling waters is enough to awaken in 
the mind of the beholder a sense of the vastness of the sea and 
at the same time of peace and contentment — the Zen sense of the 
Alone. Apparently the boat floats helplessly. It is a primitive 
structure with no mechanical device for stability and for 
audacious steering over the turbulent waves, with no scientific 
apparatus for braving all kinds of weather — quite a contrast to 
the modern ocean liner. But this very helplessness is the virtue 
of the fishing canoe, in contrast with which we feel the incom- 
prehensibility of the Absolute encompassing the boat and all 
5] the world. Again, a solitary bird on a dead branch, in which 
not a line, not a shade, is wasted, is enough to show us the 
loneliness of autumn, when days become shorter and nature 
begins to roll up once more its gorgeous display of luxurious 
summer vegetation.^ It makes one feel somewhat pensive, but 
it gives one opportunity to withdraw the attention towards the 
inner life, which, given attention enough, spreads out its rich 
treasures ungrudgingly before the eyes. 

Here we have an appreciation of transcendental aloofness in 
the midst of multiplicities — which is known as wabi in the 

^ For a picture of a similar nature, see my Zen Essays, III. facing p. 310. (See 
bibliography for full referenrcs.) Here the fishing boat as one of the most 
repre?entati\e specimens is reproduced. 



dictionary of Japanese cultural terms. Wabi really means “pov- 
erty,” or, negatively, “not to be in the fashionable society of 
the time.” To be poor, that is, not to be dependent on things 
worldly — wealth, power, and reputation — and yet to feel in- 
wardly the presence of something of the highest value, above 
time and social position: this is what essentially constitutes 
ivabi. Stated in terms of practical everyday life, icabi is to 
be satisfied with a little hut, a room of two or three tatami 
(mats), like the log cabin of Thoreau, and with a dish of 
vegetables picked in the neighboring fields, and perhaps to be 
listening to the pattering of a gentle spring rainfall. While later 
I will say something more about uabi, let me state here that 
the cult of wabi has entered deeply into the cultural life of the 
Japanese people. It is in truth the worshiping of poverty — 
probably a most appropriate cult in a poor country like ours. 
Despite the modern Western luxuries and comforts of life which 
have invaded us, there is still an ineradicable longing in us for 
the cult of ivabi. Even in the intellectual life, not richness of 
ideas, not brilliancy or solemnity in marshaling thoughts and 
building up a philosophical system, is sought; but just to stay 
quietly content with the mystical contemplation of Nature and to 
feel at home with the world is more inspiring to us. at least to 
some of us. 

However “civilized,” hoAvever much brought up in an artifi- 
cially contrived environment, we all seem to have an innate 
longing for primitive simplicity, close to the natural state of 
living. Hence the city people’s pleasure in summer camping in 
the woods or traveling in the desert or opening up an unbeaten 
track. We wish to go back once in a while to the bosom of Nature 
and feel her pulsation directly. Zen’s habit of mind, to break 
through all forms of human artificiality and take firm hold of 
what lies behind them, has helped the Japanese not to forget 
the soil but to be always friendly with Nature and appreciate her 
unaffected simplicity. Zen has no taste for complexities that lie 
on the surface of life. Life itself is simple enough, but when it is 



surveyed by the analyzing intellect it presents unparalleled in- 
tricacies. With all the apparatus of science we have not yet 
fathomed the mysteries of life. But, once in its current, we seem 
to be able to understand it, with its apparently endless pluralities 
and entanglements. Very likely, the most characteristic thing in 
the temperament of the Eastern people is the ability to grasp life 
from within and not from without. And Zen has just struck it. 

In painting especially, disregard of form results when too 
much attention or emphasis is given to the all-importance of 
the spirit. The ‘'one-corner” style and the economy of brush 
strokes also help to effect aloofness from conventional rules. 
T^diere you would ordinarily expect a line or a mass or a bal- 
ancing element, you miss it, and yet this very thing awakens in 
you an unexpected feeling of pleasure. In spite of shortcomings 
or deficiencies that no doubt are apparent, you do not feel them 
so; indeed, this imperfection itself becomes a form of perfection. 
Evidently, beauty does not necessarily spell perfection of form. 
This has been one of the favorite tricks of Japanese artists — 
to embody beauty in a form of imperfection or even of ugli- 

When this beauty of imperfection is accompanied by anti- 
quity or primitive uncouthness, we have a glimpse of sabi, so 
prized by Japanese connoisseurs. Antiquity and primitiveness 
may not be an actuality. If an object of art suggests even 
superficially the feeling of a historical period, there is sabi in it. 
Sabi consists in rustic unprelentiousness or archaic imperfec- 
tion, apparent simplicity or effortlessness in execution, and rich- 
ness in historical associations ( which, however, may not always 
be present ) ; and, lastly, it contains inexplicable elements that 
raise the object in question to the rank of an artistic production. 
These elements are generally regarded as derived from the ap- 
preciation of Zen. The utensils used in the tearoom are mostly 
of tills nature. 

The artistic element that goes into tlie con.stitution of sabi, 
which literally means "loneliness” or "solitude,” is poetically 
dciiued by a teamaster thus: 



As I come out 
To this fishing village. 

Late in the autumn day. 

No floivers in bloom I see. 

Nor any tinted maple leaves.' 

Aloneness indeed appeals to contemplation and does not lend 
itself to spectacular demonstration. It may look most miserable, 
insignificant, and pitiable, especially when it is put up against 
the Western or modern setting. To be left alone, with no stream- 
ers flying, no fireworks crackling, and this amidst a gorgeous 
display of infinitely varied forms and endlessly changing colors, 
is indeed no sight at all. Take one of those sumiye sketches, 
perhaps portraying Kanzan and Jittoku (Han-shan and Shih- 
te ) hang it in a European or an American art gallery, and see 
what effect it will produce in the minds of the visitors. The idea 
of aloneness belongs to the East and is at home in the environ- 
ment of its birth. 

It is not only to the fishing village on the autumnal eve that 
aloneness gives form but also to a patch of green in the early 
spring — which is in all likelihood even more expressive of the 
idea of sabi or ivahi. Eor in the green patch, as we read in the 
following thirty-one-syllable verse, there is an indication of life 
impulse amidst the wintry desolation: 

To those who only pray for the cherries to bloom. 

How I wish to show the spring 

That gleams from a patch of green 

In the midst of the snow-covered mountain-village! ' 

- Fujiwara Sadaiye (1162-1241). 

“ Zen {ioet-recluve< of the T’ang dynaMy. A rollection of their poems known 
as the Kanzan Shi {Han-shan Shih) or Sanrai Shi iSan-lai Shih) or Sanin Shi 
{San-} in shih) is still in existence. The pair together, Kanzan and Jittoku. has 
been a favorite subject for Far Eastern painters. There is something in their [It. IS. II) 
transcendental air of fieedom ivhich attracts us even in these modern days. We 
give two sets of representative pictures of the T'ang poet-recluses. 

^ Fujiwara lyetaka ( 1158-1237 ) . 


This is given by one of the old teamasters as thoroughly ex- 
pressive of sabi, which is one of the four principles governing 
the cult of tea, cha-no-yu. Here is just a feeble inception of life 
power as asserted in the form of a little green patch, but in it 
he who has an eye can readily discern the spring shooting 
out from underneath the forbidding snow. It may be said to be 
a mere suggestion that stirs his mind, but just the same it is life 
itself and not its feeble indication. To the artist, life is as much 
here as when the whole field is overlaid with verdure and 
flowers. One may call this the mystic sense of the artist. 

Asymmetry is another feature that distinguishes Japanese art. 
The idea is doubtlessly derived from the “one-corner” style of 
Bayen. The plainest and boldest example is the plan of Buddhist 
architecture. The principal structures, such as the Tower Gate, 
the Dharma Hall, the Buddha Hall, and others, may be laid 
along one straight line; but structures of secondary or supple- 
mentary importance, sometimes even those of major importance, 
are not arranged symmetrically as wings along either side of the 
main line. They may be found irregularly scattered over the 
grounds in accordance with the topographical peculiarities. You 
will readily be convinced of this fact if you visit some of the 
Buddhist temples in the mountains, for example, the lyeyasu 
shrine at Nikko. We can say that asymmetry is quite character- 
istic of Japanese architecture of this class. 

This can be demonstrated par excellence in the construction 
7] of the tearoom and in the tools used in connection wdth it. Look 
at the ceiling, which may be constructed in at least three dif- 
ferent styles, and at some of the utensils for serving tea, and 
8, 9, 5't] again at the grouping and laying of the steppingstones or flag- 
stones in the garden. We find so many illustrations of asym- 
metry, or, in a way, of imperfection, or of the “one-corner” style. 

Some Japanese moralists try to explain this liking of the 
Japanese artists for things asymmetrically formed and counter 
to the conventional, or rather geometrical, rules of art by the 
theory that the people have been morally trained not to be ob- 



trusive but always to efface themselves, and that this mental 
habit of self-annihilation manifests itself accordingly in art — 
for example, when the artist leaves the important central space 
unoccupied. But, to my mind, this theory is not quite correct. 
Would it not be a more plausible explanation to say that the 
artistic genius of the Japanese people has been inspired by the 
Zen way of looking at individual things as perfect in themselves 
and at the same time as embodying the nature of totality which 
belongs to the One? 

The doctrine of ascetic aestheticism is not so fundamental as 
that of Zen aestheticism. Art impulses are more primitive or more 
innate than those of morality. The appeal of art goes more di- 
rectly into human nature. Morality is regulative, art is creative. 
One is an imposition from without, the other is an irrepressible 
expression from within. Zen finds its inevitable association 
with art but not with morality. Zen may remain unmoral but not 
without art. When the Japanese artists create objects imperfect 
from the point of view of form, they may even be willing to as- 
cribe their art motive to the current notion of moral asceticism; 
but we need not give too much significance to their own inter- 
pretation or to that of the critics. Our consciousness is not, after 
all, a very reliable standard of judgment. 

However this may be, asymmetry is certainly characteristic 
of Japanese art, which is one of the reasons informality or ap- 
proachability also marks to a certain degree Japanese objects 
of art. Symmetry inspires a notion of grace, solemnity, and 
impressiveness, which is again the case with logical formalism 
or the piling up of abstract ideas. The Japanese are often thought 
not to be intellectual and philosophical, because their general 
culture is not thoroughly impregnated with intellectuality. This 
criticism, I think, results somewhat from the Japanese love 
of asymmetry. The intellectual primarily aspires to balance, 
while the Japanese are apt to ignore it and incline strongly to- 
wards imbalance. 

Imbalance, asymmetry, the “one-comer,” poverty, sabi or 



ivabi, simplification, aloneness, and cognate ideas make up 
the most conspicuous and characteristic features of Japanese 
art and culture. All these emanate from one central perception 
of the truth of Zen, which is “the One in the Many and the Many 
in the One,” or better, “the One remaining as one in the Many in- 
dividually and collectively.” 


THAT Zen has helped to stimulate the artistic impulses of the 
Japanese people and to eolor their works with ideas charac- 
teristic of Zen is due to the following facts: the Zen monasteries 
were almost exclusively the repositories of learning and art, at 
least during the Kamakura and the Muromachi eras; the Zen 
monks had constant opportunities to come in contact with for- 
eign cultures; the monks themselves were artists, scholars, and 
mystics; they were even encouraged by the political powers of 
the time to engage in commercial enterprises to bring foreign 
objects of art and industry to Japan; the aristocrats and the 
politically influential classes of Japan were patrons of Zen in- 
stitutions and were willing to submit themselves to the disci- 
pline of Zen. Zen thus worked not only directly on the religious 
life of the Japanese but also most strongly on their general cul- 

The Tendai, the Shingon, and the Jodo contributed greatly 
to imbue the Japanese with the spirit of Buddhism, and through 
their iconography to develop their artistic instincts for sculpture, 
color painting, architecture, textile fabrics, and metalwork. 
But the philosophy of Tendai is too abstract and abstruse to be 
understood by the masses; the ritualism of Shingon is too elabo- 
rate and complicated and consequently too expensive for popu- 
larity. On the other hand, Shingon and Tendai and Jodo pro- 

° These, with the Shin and the Nichiren, are the principal schools of 
Buddhism in Japan, other than Zen. 



duced fine sculpture and pictures and artistic utensils to be used 
in their daily worship. The most highly prized “national treas- 
ures” belong to the Tempyo, the Nara, and the Heian periods, 
when those two schools of Buddhism were in the ascendency and 
intimately involved with the cultured classes of the people. The 
Jodo teaches the Pure Land in all its magnificence, where the 
Buddha of Infinite Light is attended by his retinue of Bodhisatt- 
vas, and this inspired the artists to paint those splendid pictures 
of Amida preserved in the various Buddhist temples of Japan. 
The Nichiren and the Shin are the creation of the Japanese 
religious mind. The Nichiren gave no specifically artistic and 
cultural impetus to us; the Shin tended to be somewhat icono- 
clastic and produced nothing worth mentioning in the arts and 
literature except the hymns known as uasan and the “honorable 
letters” {gobunsho or ofumi) chiefly written by Rennyo (1415- 

Zen came to Japan after Shingon and Tendai and was at once 
embraced by the military classes. It was more or less by an 
historical accident that Zen was set against the aristocratic 
priesthood. The nobility, too. in the beginning felt a certain dis- 
like for it and made use of their political advantage to stir up 
opposition to Zen. In the beginning of the Japanese history of 
Zen, therefore, Zen avoided Kyoto and established itself under 
the patronage of the Hojo family in Kamakura. This place, as the 
seat of the feudal government in those days, became the head- 
quarters of Zen discipline. Many Zen monks from China settled 
in Kamakura and found strong support in the Hojo family — 
Tokiyori, Tokimune, and their successors and retainers. 

The Chinese masters brought many artists and objects of art 
along with them, and the Japanese who came back from China 
were also bearers of art and literature. Pictures of Kakei I Hsia 
Kuei, fl. 1190-1220). Mokkei (Mu-ch’i, fl. c. 1240), Ryokai 
(Liang K’ai, fl. c. 1210), Bayen (Ma Yiian, fl. 1175-1225), 
and others thus found their way to Japan. Manuscripts of the 
noted Zen masters of China were also given shelter in the 

[10, II 


[front., li-II 



• 31 - 26 ] monasteries here. Calligraphy in the Far East is an art just as 
much as sumiye painting, and it was cultivated almost universally 
among the intellectual classes in olden times. The spirit pervad- 
ing Zen pictures and calligraphy made a strong impression on 
them, and Zen was readily taken up and followed. In it there is 
something virile and unbending. A mild, gentle, and graceful 
air — almost feminine, one might call it — which prevailed in the 
periods preceding the Kamakura, is now superseded by an air 
of masculinity, expressing itself mostly in the sculpture and 
calligraphy of the period. The rugged virility of the warriors of 
the Kwanto districts is proverbial, in contrast to the grace and 
refinement of the courtiers in Kyoto. The soldierly quality, with 
its mysticism and aloofness from worldly affairs, appeals to the 
willpower. Zen in this respect walks hand in hand with the spirit 
of Bushido (‘'Warriors’ Way”). 

Another factor in the discipline of Zen, or rather in the mo- 
nastic life in which Zen carries out its scheme of teaching, is 
this: as the monastery is usually situated in the mountains, its 
inmates are in the most intimate touch with nature, they are 
close and sympathetic students of it. They observe plants, birds, 
animals, rocks, rivers which people of the town would leave 
unnoticed. And their observation deeply reflects their philoso- 
phy, or better, their intuition. It is not that of a mere naturalist. 
It penetrates into the life itself of the objects that come under the 
monks’ observation. Whatever they may paint of nature will in- 
27 ] evitably be expressive of this intuition; the “spirit of the 
mountains” will be felt softly breathing in their works. 

The fundamental intuition the Zen masters gain through 
their discipline seems to stir up their artistic instincts if they are 
at all susceptible to art. The intuition that impels the masters to 
create beautiful things, that is, to express the sense of perfec- 
tion through things ugly and imperfect, is apparently closely re- 
lated to the feeling for art. The Zen masters may not make 
good philosophers, but they are very frequently fine artists. Even 


their technique is often of the first order, and besides they know 

how to tell us something unique and original. One such is Muso 

the National Teacher 11275—13511. He was a fine calligrapher [2S 

and a great landscape gardener; wherever he resided, at quite a 

number of places in Japan, he designed splendid gardens, some 

of which are still in existence and well preserved after so many 

years of changing times. Among the noted painters of Zen in the 

fourteenth and fifteenth centuries we may mention Cho Densu [30-33, A 

(d. 1431), Kei Shoki (fl. 1490), Josetsu ffl. 1375-1420). 

Shubun (fl. 1420-501. Sesshu (1421-15061, and others. 

Georges Duthuit, the author of Chinese Mysticism and Mod- 
ern Painting, seems to understand the spirit of Zen mysticism. 

From him we have this; “When the Chinese artist paints, what 
matters is the concentration of thought and the prompt and 
vigorous response of the hand to the directing will. Tradition 
ordains him to see, or rather to feel, as a whole the work to be 
executed, before embarking on anything. ‘If the ideas of a man 
are confused, he will become the slave of exterior conditions.’ 

... He who deliberates and moves his brush intent on making 
a picture, misses to a still greater extent the art of painting. [This 
seems like a kind of automatic writing.] Draw bamboos for ten 
years, become a bamboo, then forget all about bamboos when 
you are drawing. In possession of an infallible technique, the 
individual places himself at the mercy of inspiration.” 

To become a bamboo and to forget that you are one with it 
while drawing it — this is the Zen of the bamboo, this is the mov- 
ing with the “rhythmic movement of the spirit” which resides in 
the bamboo as well as in the artist himself. What is now required 
of him is to have a firm hold on the spirit and yet not to be con- 
scious of the fact. This is a very difficult task achieved only 
after long spiritual training.® The Eastern people have been 
taught since the earliest times to subject themselves to this kind 
of discipline if they want to achieve something in the world of 
Cf. Takuan on ‘'Prajna Immovable,” pp. 95 ff. 


ZEN A N D J A P A N E > E C U L T L R E 

art and religion. Zen. in fact, has given expression to it in the 
following phrase: "One in All and All in One. hen tliis is 
thorougldy understood, there is creative genius. 

It is of utmost importance here to interpret the phrase in its 
proper sense. People imagine that it means pantlieism. and 
some students of Zen seem to agree. This is to he regretted, for 
pantheism is something foreign to Zen and also to the artist’s 
understanding of his work. W hen the Zen masters declare the 
One to be in the All and the All in the One. they do not mean that 
there is a thing to be known as the One or as the .All and that 
the one is the other and vice versa. .As the One is in the .All. some 
people suppose that Zen is a pantheistic teaching. Far from it; 
Zen would never hypostatize the One or the All as a thing to be 
grasped by the senses. The phrase "One in .All and All in One” 
is to be understood as an e.xpression of absolute prajna- 
intuition and is not to be conceptually analyzed, '^’hen we see 
the moon, we know that it is the moon, and that is enough. Those 
who proceed to analyze the experience and try to establish a 
theory of knowledge are not students of Zen. They cease to be so, 
if they ever were, at the very moment of their jjrocedure as 
analysts. Zen always upholds its experience as such and refuses 
to commit itself to any system of philosophy. 

Even when Zen indulges in intellection, it never subscribes to 
a pantheistic interpretation of the world. For one thing, there 
is no One in Zen. If Zen ever speaks of the One as if it recognized 
it. this is a kind of condescension to common parlance. To Zen 
students, the One is the All and the All is the One; and yet the 
One remains the One and the All the All. "Not two!” may 
lead the logician to think. ‘Tt is One.” But the master would go 
on, saying. ‘'Not One either!” ’‘What then?” we may ask. We 
here face a blind alley, as far as verbalism is concerned. There- 
fore, it is said that If you wish to be in direct communion [with 
Reality], I tell you, ’Not two!’” 

The following mondo ‘ may help to illustrate the point I wish 

' This and what follows are all from the Hel.igan-shu, caMj 79. 

Lin-chi (Rinzai), Zen master of the 9th century 

A. Soga Jasoku. The Daruina triptych. Late 15th centurj 

Tc'snaii iT-kii'ani. akn of the ''th ceet 


to make in regard to the Zen attitude towards the so-called 
pantheistic interpretation of nature. 

A monk asked Tosu (T’ou-tzu). a Zen master of the T ang 
period: “I understand that all sounds are the voice of the Bud- 
dha. Is this right?’' The master said, "That is right.’’ The monk 
then proceeded: “Would not the master please stop making a 
noise which echoes the sound of a fermenting mass of filth?” 
The master thereupon struck the monk. 

The monk further asked Tosu: "Am 1 in the right when I 
understand the Buddha as asserting that all talk, however trivial 
or derogatory, belongs to ultimate truth?” The master said. "Aes. 
you are in the right.” The monk went on. "May I then call you 
a donkey?” The master thereupon struck him. 

It may be necessary to explain these mondo in plain language. 
To conceive every sound, every noise, every utterance one makes 
as issuing from the fountainhead of one Reality, that is. from one 
God. is pantheistic, I imagine. For "he giveth to all life, and 
breath, and all things” (Acts 17 : 25): and again. "For in him 
we live, and move, and have our being” I Acts 17 : 28). If this 
be the case, a Zen master’s hoarse throat echoes the melodious 
resonance of the voice flowing from the Buddha’s golden mouth, 
and even when a great teacher is decried as reminding one of 
an ass, the defamation must be regarded as reflecting some- 
thing of ultimate truth. All forms of evil must be said somehow 
to be embodying what is true and good and beautiful, and to be 
a contribution to the perfection of Reality. To state it more con- 
cretely, bad is good, ugly is beautiful, false is true. imj)erfect is 
perfect, and also conversely. This is. indeed, the kind of rea- 
soning in which those indulge who conceive the God-nature to 
be immanent in all things. Let us see how the Zen master treats 
this problem. 

It is remarkable that Tosu put his foot right down against 
such intellectualist interpretations and struck his monk. The 
latter in all probability expected to see the master nonplussed by 
his statements which logically follow from his first assertion. 



The masterful Tosu knew, as all Zen masters do, the useless- 
ness of making any verbal demonstration against such a “logi- 
cian.” For verbalism leads from one complication to another; 
there is no end to it. The only effective way, perhaps, to make 
such a monk as this one realize the falsehood of his conceptual 
understanding is to strike him and so let him experience within 
himself the meaning of the statement, “One in All and All in 
One.” The monk was to be awakened from his logical somnam- 
bulism. Hence Tosu’s drastic measure. 

Seccho ^ here gives his comments in the following lines: 

Pity that people without number try to play with the tide; 
They are all ultimately swallowed up into it and die! 

Let them suddenly awake [from the deadlock]. 

And see that all the rivers run backward, sivelling and surging. 

What is needed here is an abrupt turning or awakening, with 
which one comes to the realization of the truth of Zen — which 
is neither transcendentalism nor immanentism nor a combina- 
tion of the two. The truth is as Tosu declares in the following; 

A monk asks, “What is the Buddha?” 

Tosu answers, “The Buddha.” 

Monk; “What is the Tao?” 

Tosu: “The Tao.” 

Monk: “What is Zen?” 

Tosu; “Zen.” 

The master answers like a parrot, he is echo itself. In fact, 
there is no other way of illumining the monk’s mind than af- 
firming that what is is — which is the final fact of e.xperience. 

Another example ” is given to illustrate the point. A monk 
asked Joshu (Chao-chou), of the T’ang dynasty: “It is stated 

^Seccho (H^iieh-tou. 980-1052) was one of the great Zen masters of the 
Sung, noted for his literary accomplishment. The Ilekigan-shu is based on 
Seccho’s “One Hundred Cases,*' which he selected out of the annals of Zen. 
See p. 399 n. for further information. 

Hekigan-shu, case 57. 


that the Perfect Way knows no difficulties, only that it abhors 
discrimination. What is meant by No-discrimination?” 

Joshu said, “Above the heavens and below the heavens, 1 
alone am the Honored One.” 

The monk suggested. “Still a discrimination.” 

The master’s retort was, “0 this worthless fellow'! Where is 
the discrimination?” 

By discrimination the Zen masters mean what we have when 
we refuse to accept Reality as it is or in its suchness, for we 
then reflect on it and analyze it into concepts, going on with in- 
tellection and finally landing on a circulatory reasoning. Joshu’s 
affirmation is a final one and allows no equivocation, no argu- 
mentation. We have simply to take it as it stands and remain 
satisfied wdth it. In case w’e somehow fail to do this, we just 
leave it alone, and go somewhere else to seek our ow n enlighten- 
ment. The monk could not see where Joshu was. and he went 
further on and remarked, “This is still a discrimination!” The 
discrimination in point of fact is on the monk's side and not on 
Joshu’s. Hence “the Honored One’" now turns into “a worthless 

As I said before, the phrase “All in One and One in All"’ is 
not to be analyzed first to the concepts “One"’ and “All,” and 
the preposition is not then to be put between them: no discrimi- 
nation is to be exercised here, but one is just to accept it and 
abide with it, which is really no-abiding at all. There is nothing 
further to do. Hence the master’s striking or calling names. He 
is not indignant, nor is he short-tempered, but he wishes 
thereby to help his disciples out of the pit which they have dug 
themselves. No amount of argument avails here, no verbal per- 
suasion. Only the master knows how' to turn them away from a 
logical impasse and how to open a new way for them; let them, 
therefore, simply follow' him. By following him they all come 
back to their Original Home. 

When an intuitive or experiential understanding of Reality is 
verbally formulated as “All in One and One in All,” w'e have 



there the fundamental statement as it is taught by all the various 
schools of Buddhism. In the terminology of the Prajna school, 
this is: sunyatd ("’emptiness”) is tathatd ("suchness”), and 
tathatd is sunyatd: sunyatd is the world of the Absolute, and 
tathatd is the world of particulars. One of the commonest say- 
ings in Zen is "Willows are green and flowers red” or “bamboos 
are straight and pine trees are gnarled.” Facts of experience are 
accepted as they are; Zen is not nihilistic, nor is it merely positiv- 
istic. Zen would say that just because the bamboo is straight it 
is of Emptiness, or that just because of Emptiness the bamboo 
cannot be anything else but a bamboo and not a pine tree. What 
makes the Zen statements different from mere sense experience, 
however, is that Zen’s intuition grows out of prajnd and not out 
of jnd.^'^ It is from this point of view that when asked “What is 
Zen?” the master sometimes answers “Zen” and sometimes 

We can see now that the principle of sumiye painting is derived 
from this Zen experience, and that directness, simplicity, move- 
ment, spirituality, completeness, and other qualities we observe 
in the sumiye class of Oriental paintings have organic relation- 
ship to Zen. There is no pantheism in sumiye as there is none 
in Zen. 

There is another thing I must not forget to mention in this 
connection, which is perhaps the most important factor in 
sumiye as well as in Zen. It is creativity. When it is said that 
sumiye depicts the spirit of an object, or that it gives a form to 
what has no form, this means that there must be a spirit of 
creativity moving over the picture. The painter’s business thus 
is not just to copy or imitate nature, but to give to tbe object 
something living in its own right. It is the same with the Zen 
master. When he says that the willow is green and the flower is 
red, he is not just giving us a description of how nature looks, 
but something whereby green is green and red is red. This 

^ Prajnd may be tran'^latetl “tranbcendental wi'.dom,” while jnd or vijnd 
is “relati-ve knowledge.” For a detailed explanation, see my Studies in Zen 
Buddhism, pp. 85 ff. 



something is what I call the spirit of creativity. Sunyata is 
formless, but it is the fountainhead of all possibilities. To turn 
what is possible into an actuality is an act of creativity. When 
Tosu is asked, ‘'What is Dharma?” he answers. “Dharma”; when 
asked, ‘"What is Buddha?” he answers “Buddha.” This is by no 
means a parrotlike response, a mere echoing: all the answers 
come out of his creative mind, without which there is no Zen in 
Tosu. The understanding of Zen is to understand what kind 
of mind this is. Yakusan’s meeting with Riko will illustrate this.” 

Yakusan (Yao-shan. 751—834) was a great master of the 
T’ang era. When Riko ( Li Ao), governor of the province, heard 
of his Zen mastership, he sent for him to come to the capital. 
Yakusan, however, refused to come. This happened several 
times. Riko grew impatient and came in person to see the master 
in his own mountain retreat. Yakusan was reading the sutras and 
paid no attention whatever to the arrival of the governor. The 
attendant monk reminded the master of the fact, but he still 
kept on reading. Riko felt hurt and remarked, “Seeing the face 
is not at all like hearing the name.” By this he meant that the 
person in actuality was not equal to his reputation. Yakusan 
called out, “0 Governor!” Riko echoed at once, “Yes, Master.” 
The master then said, “Why do you evaluate the hearing over 
the seeing?” The governor apologized and asked, “What is 
Tao?” Yakusan pointed up with his hand and then down, and 
said, “Do you understand?” Riko said, “No. Master.” There- 
upon Yakusan remarked, “The clouds are in the sky and water 
in the jar.” It is said that this pleased the governor very much. 

Did Riko really understand what Yakusan meant? Yakusan’s 
is no more than a plain statement of the facts as they are, and 
we may ask, “Where is Tao?” Riko was a great scholar and 
philosopher. He must have had some abstract conception of Tao. 
Could he so readily reconcile his view with Yakusan’s? What- 
ever we may say about this. Yakusan and Tosu and other Zen 
masters are all walking the same track. The artists are also re- 
quired to strike it. 

Dentdroku (."Transmission of the Lamp”), fasc. 14. 



Zen and 

the Study of Confucianism 

P ARADOXICAL and ironical though it may seem, Zen, whose 
teaching is against all learning, all literary reconstruction, 
was the agency in Japan for encouraging the study of Con- 
fucianism — and, furthermore, for promoting the art of printing, 
not only of Buddhist books but also of Confucian and Shinto 
literature. The Kamakura (1185-1338) and the Ashikaga 
( 1338—1568) periods are generally considered the dark ages of 
Japanese history; the fact is, they are far otherwise. During those 
times, the Zen monks were active in bringing Chinese culture 
into Japan and preparing the way for its assimilation later on. 
Indeed, w'hat we now regard as particularly Japanese was in 
the process of hatching during those periods. In them we may 
trace the beginnings of haiku, nd-gahu,'^ theater, landscape gar- 
dening. flower arrangement, and the art of tea. Here I wish to 
confine myself to the development of Confucian study in Japan, 
as it was influenced by the Zen monks. To do this, it is advisable 
to say a word about the ‘‘Sung philosophy’’ in China. 

Politically, the Sung was a troubled age in the history of 
Cliina. The Middle Kingdom was constantly menaced from the 
North, so that it had to retreat southward, crossing the Huai, 
and finally in 1126 to submit to the domination of the Northern 
■’barbarian” tribes. This marks the end of the Northern Sung 
(960-1126). The Southern Sung started (1127) when the 
Emperor Kao Tsung was enthroned at Lin-an, south of the 
' An abstract of a No play. "Yama-uba,” is giccn in Appendix It. 


Yangtze River. This lasted until (1279) the Yiian invaders suc- 
ceeded in completely overturning the steadily declining dynasty, 
which had first been established by the Chao family more than 
three hundred years before. In spite of the succession of these 
politically eventful days, the Sung, both Northern and especially 
Southern, left brilliant records in the world of thought and gen- 
eral culture. There were poets, artists, Confucian philoso- 
phers, and Buddhist thinkers, including Zen masters. 

Philosophy achieved a phenomenal development in the South. 
It seemed as if the original speculative impulse pent up during 
the Han and succeeding dynasties, and more or less suppressed 
by the powerful thought of India, burst out and asserted itself 
in this period, even under the pressure of an alien power. The 
result was the rise of a philosophy we may properly call “Chi- 
nese,” in which all the trends of thought imported from abroad, 
as well as those primarily native to China, were syncretized and 
formulated on the basis of the Chinese mentality, and therefore 
made more readily acceptable to it. The Sung philosophy is the 
flower of the Chinese mind. 

One powerful factor, at least, that helped to give such a fruit- 
ful stimulus to Chinese speculation was the teaching of Zen. Zen 
is always stimulating and thought-provoking, because it goes 
directly to the root of things regardless of superstructures. When 
Confucianism turned into the mere study of ritual and the 
practice of earthly morals, all scarcely more than textual criti- 
cism by schools of commentators, we can say that it was on the 
verge of collapse and final death as a source of creative specula- 
tion. It required a new force to resuscitate it. Taoism, the rival 
school of Chinese thought, was deeply buried under its own more 
popular and superstitious framework. There was in it nothing 
of intellectual vigor that would instill fresh blood into Con- 
fucianism. If Zen had failed to stir the depths of Chinese 
psychology during the T’ang, the people of the Sung would 
probably never have newly taken up their own philosophy and 
pursued its reconstruction and further unfolding. Almost all the 


thinkers of the Sung, at least once in their lives, hetook them- 
selves to the Zen monasteries. With whatever insight or no- 
insight they carried out of these institutions, they re-examined 
their own philosophy born of their own soil. The Sung philosophy 
is the outcome of their spiritual adventures. While denouncing 
Buddhism and the Buddhist way of thinking, they drank 
deeply from the Indian fountain presented to them in Zen. 

The Zen monks, on the other hand, were students of Con- 
fucianism as well. As Chinese, they could be nothing else. The 
difference between Confucian scholars and Zen masters was that 
the Confucians based their philosophy on the native system, 
while the Zen Buddhists adhered to their own although they 
adopted the Confucian vocabulary. Indeed, they quite fre- 
quently expressed themselves in terms of Confucianism. It may 
be said that the difference between the two classes of mind lay in 
the placing of emphasis. The Zen monks interpreted the Con- 
fucian texts in the Indian fashion, so to speak — that is, more or 
less idealistically — and they were not averse to commenting 
on Buddhist literature from the Confucian point of view. 

When these monks came to Japan, they brought both Zen and 
Confucianism. The Japanese monks who went over to China to 
study Zen brought back the same; that is, together with their 
own Zen books they filled their traveling cases with books on 
Confucianism and Taoism. While in China, they sat at the feet 
of the Zen-Confucian masters and learned much of both dis- 
ciplines. And there were many such Chinese masters in the 
Sung areas, especially in Southern Sung. 

I will not enter into too much detail in regard to the interrela- 
tionship of Zen with Confucianism and Taoism in China. Suffice 
it to state here that Zen is, in fact, the Chinese way of responding 
to Indian thought as represented by Buddhism and that, this 
being so, Zen, as it developed in the T’ang and later flourished 
in the Sung, could be nothing else but a reflection of Chinese 
mentality — by which I mean it was eminently practical and 
ethical. In this respect, there was every probability of Zen’s 


taking on Confucian coloring. But in the beginning of Zen’s his- 
tory its philosophy was Indian, that is, Buddhistic, for there was 
nothing corresponding to it in the traditional teaching of Con- 
fucianism. And this was the element the later Confucian think- 
ers consciously or unconsciously wished to incorporate into their 
own system. In other words, Zen acquired its practicalness from 
Confucianism, whereas Confucianism absorbed through the 
teaching of Zen ( though in some respects indirectly ) the Indian 
habit of abstract speculation and finally succeeded in giving a 
metaphysical foundation to the teaching of Confucius and his 
followers. To do this, the Sung philosophers emphasized the ut- 
most importance of the ‘‘Four Books” “ in the study of Con- 
fucianism. They found in them some statements which could be 
elaborated for the establishment of their system. This naturally 
paved the way to a rapprochement between Zen and Confucian- 

It was thus natural for the Zen monks to become propagators 
of Confucianism in addition to being Buddhists. Strictly speak- 
ing, Zen has no philosophy of its own. Its teaching is concen- 
trated on an intuitive experience, and the intellectual content of 
this experience can be supplied by a system of thought not neces- 
sarily Buddhistic. If the masters find it more expedient for some 
reason, they may build up their own philosophical structure not 
always in accordance with the traditional interpretation. Zen 
Buddhists are sometimes Confucianists, sometimes Taoists, or 

-The Four Books are; (1) Daigaku {Ta Hsiieh) . Great Learning; 
(2) Chuyo iChung Yung), Doctrine of the Mean; (3) Kongo (Lun Yii), 
Confucian Analects; and 14) Moshi {Meng-tzu), Works of Mencius. The Great 
Learning and the Doctrine of the Mean were originally incorporated in the 
Record of Rites (Li Chi), one of the Five Canons (see n. 3). They are 
ascribed to Tzu-ssu, grandson of Confucius. They contain the gist of Con- 
fucian teaching and were taken up as such for the first time by the Sung 
scholars, one of whom, Chu-tzu (1130-12(X)) , wrote commentaries on them. 
Confucius’ Analects, compih-d by his disciples after his death, record the 
master’s sayings, conduct, talks with his disciples, etc. Mencius (372-289 B.c.), 
one of the most prominent early advocates of Confucianism, was an eloquent 
and astute thinker of his day. 


sometimes even Shintoists; Zen experience can also be explained 
by Western philosophy. 

In the fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries, the "Five Moun- 
tains,” that is, the five Zen monasteries in Kyoto, were the pub- 
lishing headquarters of the Confucian texts, to say nothing about 
the Zen books. Some of these earlier texts, including those of 
the thirteenth century, both Buddhist and Confucian, are still 
obtainable and among the most highly prized woodcut prints 
in the Far East. 

Not only did the Zen monks edit and print the textbooks of 
Buddhism and Confucianism, but they compiled books for popu- 
lar education. These they used in their monasteries, where 
people crowded who were desirous of improving their knowledge 
and culture. The term terahoya thus came in vogue. ( Tera means 
“Buddhist temple,” ko “children,” and ya “house.”) The Tera- 
koya system was the only institution of popular education dur- 
ing the feudal ages of Japan, until it was replaced by the modern 
system after the Restoration in 1868. 

The activities of the Zen monks were not confined to the cen- 
tral parts of Japan; they were invited by the provincial lords to 
look after the education of their vassals and retainers. They were 
Buddhist-Confucianists. As one of the most notable examples we 
mention a Zen monk, Keian (1427-1508), wbo went to Sat- 
suma, the southwestern province in Kyushu. His special study 
was the “Four Books,” which he explained according to the 
commentaries of Shushi ( Chu Hsi in Chinese). But. being a Zen 
monk, he did not forget to emphasize his own teaching in con- 
nection with the Confucian philosophy. The study of Mind was 
the guiding spirit of his discipline. He also lectured on the Shu 
Ching, one of the “Five Canons,” ^ which contains the ethical 

"The Five Canons are: ll) Yekikyo (/ Ching), Book of Changes; 
(2) Shikyd (Shih Ching). Book of Odes; (3) Shokyo [Shu Ching), Book of 
AnnaK; (4) Shnnju iCh'itn Ch'iu). Spring and Autumn; (5) Raiki )Li 
Chi), Record of Rites. The Book of Changes is a verv' strange and enigmatic 
hook. It may be regarded a« containing the old Chinese way of thinking based 


edicts of the ancient rulers of China. He left in Satsuma an en- 
during spiritual influence. Among his distant disciples the name 
of Shimadzu Nisshinsai ( 1492—1568 ) stands out most promi- 
nently. Although he was not taught by Keian himself, his mother 
and his teachers were personally acquainted with Keian, and all 
their families were great admirers of the monk-scholar. Nis- 
shinsai was born of the Shimadzu family, and his eldest son was 
later adopted by the main family and came to rule the three 
provinces of Satsuma, Osumi, and Hyuga. in the southwestern 
part of Japan. Nisshinsai’s moral influence spread, through his 
son, all over the feudal estate under his jurisdiction. Until the 
Restoration of 1868, he was rightly honored by the people as 
one of the greatest figures among them. 

Of the Zen masters of the “Five Mountains,” mention may be 
made of Muso the National Teacher (1275-1351), Genye 
(1269-1352), Kokwan Shiren (1278-13-16), Chugan Yenge- 
tsu (1300-75), Gido Shushin (1321-88), and others, all of 
whom furthered the study of the Confucian classics in accordance 
with the spirit of Zen Buddhism. The emperors and the 
shoguns also followed the example of the Zen masters. They 
were earnest students of Zen and at the same time attended 
their lectures on Confucianism. The Emperor Hanazono (reigned 
1308-17) was a sincere scholar of the Sung school of Chinese 
philosophy and an earnest follower of Zen, in which he went far 
beyond dilettantism. The admonition he left for his successor is 
a remarkable document of royal wisdom. His statue, in the at- 

on the dualistic princijiles of yin (female) and yang (male). It also contains 
ten expository essays ascribed to Confucius. The Book of Odes is a collection 
of popular songs as well as hymns on the state occasions prevailing from 
about the fifteenth century B.c. down to the third B.c. The Book of Annals 
is a kind of political history’ beginning with the eras of Yao (legendarily 
reigning 2357-2235 B.c.) and Shun (2255-2205 B.c.) down to the Chou 
dynasty (1122-2.55 B.c.). The Spring and Autumn is another political history, 
first compiled by the historians of the state of Lu and revised by Confucius 
and completed in -178 B.c. The Record of Rites contains rites in practice 
from toward the end of the Chou dynasty down to 1-10 B.c. The Record in 
current circulation has 47 sections, comprising the Great Learning, the Doc- 
trine of the Mean, and others. 


tire of a Zen monk sitting cross-legged in serene dignity, is still 
preserved in his own room at Myoshinji, where he used to sit in 
meditation. His “journal” is important historical source material. 
And his residence, which was given to his Zen teacher, Kwanzan 
(1277-1360), became the foundation of the present Myoshinji, 
the most powerful branch of Rinzai Zen, in the western part of 

I may add here that even in the early days of the Tokugawa 
Shogunate, that is, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, 
the Confucian scholars used to shave their heads like Buddhist 
priests. From this fact we gather that the study of Confucianism 
was kept up among the Buddhists, especially the Zen monks, 
and even when the study came to be pursued independently 
among the intellectuals, its professors simply followed the old 

In connection with this essay, the writer wishes to add a few 
remarks about the part played by Zen in the cultivation of the 
nationalistic spirit during the Kamakura and the Ashikaga pe- 
riods. Theoretically speaking, Zen has nothing to do with na- 
tionalism. As long as it is a religion, its mission has universal 
validity, and its field of applicability is not limited to any one 
nationality. But from the point of view of history it is subject 
to accidents and particularization. When Zen first came to Japan, 
it became identified with persons steeped in Confucianism and 
patriotic spirit, and Zen naturally took their color unto itself; 
that is to say, Zen was not received in Japan in its pure form, 
free of the effect of all accidents of place and time. Not only that, 
the Japanese followers themselves were willing to take Zen with 
everything that came along with it, until later the accidentals 
were separated from the body to which they were attached and 
came to establish themselves independently, even in defiance of 
their original association. A description of this process in the 
history of Japanese thought does not belong here, hut I wish to 
refer to it more or less tentatively in tracing it back to the 
Chinese thought-movement. 


As I said elsewhere, the culmination of Chinese intellectuality 
is found in the philosophy of Shushi or Chn Hsi ( 1130—1200). 
who flourished mainly in the Southern Sung. He was probably 
the greatest among Chinese thinkers who tried to systematize 
Chinese thought along the lines of the psychology of the people. 
There were greater philosophers before him among his coun- 
trymen. but their thought moved along the Indian line of specu- 
lation, somewhat against their native trends. For this reason their 
philosophy did not influence the people so directly as did that of 
the Southern Sung. It is no doubt true that the Southern Sung 
school could not have had its existence without its Buddhist pred- 
ecessors. We must now see how the so-called "Science of the 
Tao” developed in Sung, for this will help us to understand 
Zen’s specific influence on the thought and feeling of the Japa- 
nese people. 

There are two original currents of Chinese thought, Confucian- 
ism and pure Taoism, that is, the Taoism not colored by popular 
beliefs and superstitions. Confucianism represents the practicality 
or positivism of Chinese mentality, whereas Taoism represents 
its mystic and speculative trends. When Buddhism was brought 
to China in the early Latter Han Dynasty (a.d. 64), it found a 
real associate in the thought of Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu. In the 
beginning, Buddhism was not much active in Chinese thought: 
its adherents occupied themselves mostly with translating its 
texts into Chinese, and the people did not know exactly how to 
take it into their system of thoughts and beliefs. But through the 
translations they must have realized that there was something 
very deep, very inspiring, in the philosophy of Buddhism. Since 
the second century, when the Prajndparamitd Sutras ‘ were first 
rendered into Chinese, thinkers were deeply impressed by them 
and took up their study in all seriousness. While they could not 

^ The fir“t Chine^e translation of parts of this important Mahayana text 
was completed in a.d. 179 by Lokaraksa, from ancient Bactria (now northern 
Afghanistan ) . who came to Loyang. China, in 147. 


clearly grasp the idea of sunyata, "emptiness,” they found it 
somewhat akin to the Lao-tzuan idea of wu. "nothingness." 

During the Six Dynasties ( 386—587 ) . when the study of 
Taoism cairied the day to the extent that the Confucian texts 
themselves were interpreted in the light of Taoism. Kumarajiva 
came from a western kingdom to China in 401 and translated a 
number of the i\Iahayana sutras. He was not only a brilliant 
translator but a great original thinker who shed much light on 
the understanding of the Mahayana. and his Chinese disciples 
busied themselves in developing his ideas in the way most 
adapted to the mentality of their people. The San-lun ( Sanron in 
Japanese) School of Buddhism thus came to be established in 
China by Chi-tsang l 549-623 ) . who based his philosophy on 
the teaching of Nagarjuna. It was a wonderful system of thought, 
rising for the first time in the land of Confucius and Lao-tzu. 
But we can say that the author of the school was still under the 
influence of Indian thought. He thought as Indians did and not 
necessarily in the Chinese fashion. He is as no doubt a Chinese 
Buddhist, but a Buddhist scholar; if this were possible, he 
thought as a Buddliist and not as a Cliinese. 

The San-lun School was followed by the T'ien-t'ai (Tendai). 
Wei-shih I Yuishiki ) , and the Hua-yen I Kegon ) in the Sui and 
the T'ang dynasties.'’ The T'ien-t'ai is based on the Saddharrna- 
pundarlka, the Wei-shih on the idealistic teaching of Asanga and 
Vasubandhu, and the Hua-yen on the philosophy of the infinite 
as expounded in the Avatamsaka. The last was the culmina- 
tion of Chinese Buddhist thought. It demonstrates the height of 

Kichi/.o in Japanc.'-e. He is also known as Chia-hsiaiif; Ta-shih (Kajo 
Daishi I . 

‘'The T'ien-t'ai started with Hni-w-fn (Yemon, 550-771. Hui-ssu ( Yeshi, 
514_77i. and Chih-i ( Chigi. 538-97). The Wei-shih began its mo\ement with 
Hsiian-chuang (Genjo. 600-64). when he translated Vasubandhn's treatise on 
the philosophy of ‘-Mind-only" {V i inanamdtra\ ■ and its great exponent was 
his ehiet disciple. K’uei-chi (Kiki, 632-82). The systematizer of the Hua-yen 
school was Fa-tsang ( Hozo. 643-712), whose great predecessors were T'u-shun 
(Tojun, 557-640) and Chib-yen (Chigon. 602-68). 



religious speculation reached by Chinese Buddhist minds. It is 
the most remarkable thought system ever elaborated by people 
of the East. The Avatamsaka Sutra, including the Dasabhumika 
and the Gandavyuha, is no doubt the climax of Indian creative 
imagination, rvhich is utterly foreign to Chinese thinking and 
feeling, and it is really an intellectual feat of the Chinese Bud- 
dhists that this so completely strange imagination of the Indians 
could be intelligently and systematically digested. The philosophy 
of the Hua-yen School proves the depths of the Chinese religious 
consciousness, which revealed itself after centuries of Buddhist 
education and reflection. And this was really what stirred up the 
Chinese mind from its long slumber and gave it the strongest 
possible stimulus to bloom forth as the Sung philosophy. 

While the Hua-yen School represented the intellectuality, so to 
speak, of the Chinese Buddhists, there was another school rising 
to power along with it and taking a stronger hold of their minds — 
which was Zen {Ch’an in Chinese). Zen appealed partly to the 
empirical proclivity of Chinese mentality and partly to its crav- 
ing for mysticism. Zen despised learning of letters and upheld 
the intuitive mode of understanding, for its followers were con- 
vinced that this was the most direct and effective instrument 
with which to grasp ultimate reality. In fact, empiricism and 
mysticism and positivism can walk hand in hand quite readily. 
They all look for the facts of experience and are shy of building 
up an intellectual framework around them. 

But as a social being man cannot remain content with mere 
experience: he wants to communicate it to his fellow beings — 
which means that intuition is to have its contents, its ideas, its 
intellectual reconstruction. Zen did its best to remain on its in- 
tuitive plane of understanding, and made the best use of 
imagery, symbols, and poetic tricks (not a very dignified term). 
When, however, it had to have recourse to intellection, it was a 
good friend of the Hua-yen philosophy. The amalgamation of 
Zen and Hua-yen ( Kegon ) philosophy, though by no means 
deliberately carried out, became most noticeable with Ch’eng- 



kuan (Chokwan, 738—838) and Tsung-mi ( Shumitsu, 780-841), 
both of whom were great scholars of the Hua-yen School and at 
the same time followers of Zen. It was through this approach 
that Zen came to influence the Confucian thought of the Sung 

The T’ang dynasty thus prepared the way for the rise of the 
Sung “Science of the Tao” (tao-hsiieh) , which I consider to be 
the most precious native product from the Chinese mental 
crucible into which the Hua-yen, Zen, Confucianism, and Lao- 
tzuanism were thrown together. 

Chu Hsi (Shuki or Shushi) had his predecessors: Chou 
Tun-i (Shu Ton-i, 1017-73), Chang Heng-ch’ii (Cho 0-kyo, 
1077-1135), and the Ch’eng (Tei) brothers, Ming-tao ( Meido, 
1085-1139), and 1-ch‘uan ( Isen, 1107-82). They all tried to 
establish philosophy on a purely Chinese basis, as they found 
it chiefly in the “Four Books’’ — the Lun Yii, the Meng-tzu, the 
Ta Hsiieh, and the Chung Yung — and also in the I Citing.' 
That they all studied Zen and were indebted to it in the formula- 
tion of their doctrine is seen from the fact that they place so 
much significance on the e.xperience of a sudden illumination 
that will come to them when they have duly applied themselves 
to the study of the classics or meditated on their meaning. In 
their cosmogony or ontology, they set up as primordial sub- 
stance Wu-chi, or T’ai-chi, or T’ai-hsii, which has a Buddhist ring. 
Translated in terms of ethics, this principle is sincerity [dieng), 
and the ideal of man’s life consists in cultivating the virtue of 
sincerity. For it is by this that the world is what it is; it is 
by this that the male principle and the female principle origi- 
nating in the “great limit” interact and enable the orderly growth 
of all things. Sincerity is also called li (Reason) or Cien-li 
(Heavenly Reason). 

The Sung philosophers have c/i’i (ki) opposed to li (ri), 
and this antithesis is unified in t’ai-chi, which is u u-chi. Li is the 
Reason running through all things, impartially possessed by 

' See above, n. 2. 


every one of them; without li nothing is possible, existences lose 
their being and are reduced to nonentity. Ch’i is a differentiating 
agency, whereby one Reason multiplies itself and produces a 
world of pluralities. Li and ch’i are thus interpenetrating and 

The relation of t’ai-chi to li and ch’i is not very clear, except 
that it is the synthesis of the two principles: the Sung philosophy 
did not apparently wish to remain dualistic. which is probably 
due to the influence of the Hua-yen School of Buddhism. As to 
t’ai-chi itself, it is an ambiguous idea — it appears to be primor- 
dial matter, which is uu-chi, the ‘'limitless”: the one is something 
“above matter” and the other is something “below matter,” 
and how can that which is above become that which is below 
and vice versa? The same dilemma may be encountered in the 
case of li and ch’i; but in this respect the Sung philosophers 
were decidedly Chinese and had no inclination to follow the 
Buddhists, who did not hesitate to deny the materiality of the 
world and declare it and all things in it to be equally “empty” 
( sunya ) . The Chinese mind always upheld a world of particular 
realities. Even when it closely approaches the Hua-yen, it stops 
short at materiality. 

What is significant in the Sung philosophy of Chu Hsi, and 
what made it wield a great influence in China and Japan in the 
most practical way, is its view of history. It is the development 
of the idea dominating the Spring and Autumn \Ch’un Ch’iu), 
one of the great classical works compiled by Confucius. The 
work was written by the Master with a view to weigh morally 
the claims of the different states of his day. in a period known 
as “Warring States.” China was then divided into several king- 
doms, each trying to gain the upper hand; usurpers claimed 
to be transmitting the orthodox line of kingship; politics drifted 
along with the fancy of the rulers, as if the compass was lost. 
Confucius’s idea of compiling annals of his time was to establish 
a universal ethical standard for all the future statesmen of his 
country. The Spring and Autumn, therefore, embodies the 



practical codes of ethics as they were illustrated hy the events 
of history. 

Chu Hsi followed the example of Confucius by compiling a 
history of China abridged from Ssu-ma Kuang’s larger work.® 
In this he enunciated the great principle of propriety known as 
Names and Parts ’ (ming-fen), which he thought ought to be 
made the governing principle of politics for all ages. The uni- 
verse is governed by the laws of Heaven, so are human affairs; 
and these laws require of each of us to observe what is proper 
to him. He has a “name,” he performs a certain “part” as he 
occupies a definite position in society, he is assigned a place 
where he is asked to render his service to a member of the 
group he belongs to. This network of social relationships is not 
to be ignored if the peace and happiness of its components are to 
be preserved and enhanced. The ruler has his proper duties 
to perform and his subjects theirs, parents and children have 
their well-defined obligations to each other, and so on. There 
ought to be no disturbance or usurpation of names, titles, and 

Chu Hsi was quite emphatic about what he called “names 
and parts,” for the northern invaders w'ere beating hard against 
the suzerainty of the Sung, the government dignitaries were un- 
certain how to deal with these encroaching enemies, and some 
of the former were even negotiating with the latter to carry out 
a policy of compromise. All these scenes going on before his 
eyes stirred Chu Hsi’s patriotic and nationalistic spirit, and he 
upheld his teaching strongly, even at the risk of his life, against 
some of the politicians who were trying to induce the govern- 
ment to yield to the pressure of the northerners. Although his 

^ This monumental political history of China was compiled by the order of 
the Emperor Ying-tsung, of the Sung dynasty. Ssu-ma Kuang (1019-86) and 
his collaborators spent nineteen years of most assiduous scholarly labor upon 
it. The Emperor Shen-tsung, who succeeded Ying-tsung. was greatly pleased 
with the work and himself chose its title: Tzu-chih T’ung-rhien iShichi 
Tsugan). which may be popularly translated as “An Imperial Guidebook for 
a Successful Government." 


philosophy was not able to save the Southern Sung from the in- 
vasion of the overwhelming Mongolian armies, it has enjoyed 
popular support ever sinee, not only in China but particularly 
in Japan during her feudal days. 

One of the principal reasons the philosophy of Chu Hsi ap- 
pealed so forcibly to Chinese psychology and came to be an 
officially sanctioned system of thought under successive dynasties 
was that in its framework it comprehended, even to the ful- 
fillment of all conditions required by the Chinese way of thinking 
and feeling, all the representative orthodox thoughts that had 
played any part in the advancement of Chinese culture. Another 
reason: it was the philosophy of order dear to the Chinese 
heart and earnestly sought by the people in general. The 
Chinese are, no doubt, just as patriotic and full of nationalistic 
pride as any other nation; but they are more practical than 
sentimental, I imagine, more given up to positivism than to 
idealism. Their feet are glued to the earth. They may occasionally 
gaze at the stars, for those are very beautiful to look at, but 
they never forget that they cannot live even for a day separated 
from mother earth. They are, therefore, attracted more to Chu 
Hsi’s philosophy of social order and utility than to his idealism 
and emotionalism. In this respect, the Chinese differ from the 

The following statement by Ch’eng Ming-tao (Tei Meido) 
fitly describes the Chinese mentality: 

“The reason the Tao is not made more manifest is the har mf ul 
interference of heathenism. This harm was more obvious in 
ancient times and more easily detected, but in these days it 
goes deeper and is harder to discern. Of old they [the followers 
of heathenism] took advantage of our ignorance and put us into 
a state of intellectual perplexity; but nowadays, saying that they 
have fathomed the mysteries of existence and know the reason 
of transformation, they appeal to our intelligence. But their 
speculation falls short of exploring particular things and per- 
forming social duties. They claim the universal applicability of 



their teaching, but in reality they go against the moral order of 
our ordinary life. They state that there is nothing in their 
system whose depths and subtleties have not been thoroughly 
examined, but they are unable to follow the path of the wise 
men of ancient days such as Yao and Shun.” 

By “heathenism” here is no douht meant Buddhist thought, 
whose soaring flight, however high, is not suitable ( those Sung 
philosophers think) for the consumption of their practical and 
socially-minded countrymen. This practicalness of the Sung phi- 
losophy came over to Japan on the same boat with Zen and with 
its nationalism, instilled into it hy the militaristic spirit of Chu 

In those latter days of the Southern Sung there were many 
patriotic soldiers and statesmen and even Zen monks who vol- 
unteered as fighters against the aggressors. The spirit of na- 
tionalism penetrated into all the intellectual layers of society, 
and the Japanese Zen monks who visited China at the time 
came back also saturated with the spirit and the pliilosophy 
formulated by Chu Hsi and his school. Not only Japanese 
travelers returning from China but also the Chinese monks who 
came mostly from the Southern Sung to settle in Japan, brought 
along with their Zen the message of the Sung philosophers. 
Their combined efforts to propagate the philosophy of nation- 
alism in Japan met with success in various quarters. The most no- 
table instance was the epoch-making decision on the part of the 
Emperor Godaigo (reigned 1318-1339) and his court to restore 
to their own hands the power of government that had hitherto 
been entrusted to the Kamakura Bakufu. This imperial move- 
ment is said to have started from the inspiration which the 
Emperor and his ministry received from the study of Chu Hsi's 
history of China, and this study was carried on under tlie guid- 
ance of the Zen monks. It is also stated by the historians that 
Kitabatake Chikafusa’s monumental work on the “Succession 
of the Imperial Rulers in Japan” (Jirino Sholo Ki) was a result 
of his pursuit of Chu Hsi. Chikafusa (1292-1354) was one of 



the great literary men who surrounded the Emperor Codaigo, 
and like his august master he was also a student of Zen. 

Unfortunately, the Emperor Godaigo and his court failed to 
restore the imperial government to their own power. The political 
abnormality that followed, however, did not mean the weakening 
of the Confucian learning among the intellectual elements of 
Japan; for, assisted by the Zen monks of the Five Mountains 
and also by those in the provinces, it went on as vigorously as 
ever. During the Ashikaga period, the position of the Chu Hsi 
philosophy in upholding the orthodox doctrine of Confucianism 
was generally recognized, and the Zen monks began to pursue 
its study with more than zeal for sheer learning. They knew 
where their Zen was most needed and where the Sung philos- 
ophy was most practically useful. Thus they became its real 
official propagators, and their influence radiated from Kyoto out 
to the remoter parts of the country. 

This tendency on the part of the Zen scholars to differentiate 
Zen from the Sung philosophy as systematized by Chu Hsi and 
his school helped to define sharply the division of labor or the 
sphere of influence between Buddhism and Confucianism in 
Japan under the regime of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The 
practical spirit animating the Chinese way of thinking and feel- 
ing, especially recognizable in Chu Hsi, strongly appealed to the 
founders of the Tokugawa; for they were now most anxious to 
see peace and order quickly restored all over the country after 
so many years of war. For this purpose they found the Chinese 
teaching most eminently suited. The first official exponents of the 
Sung philosophy to use Chu Hsi’s commentaries were Fujiwara 
Seikwa (1561-16191 and his disciple Hayashi Kazan (1583- 
1657 ). SeiKwa was originally a Buddhist monk, but he took so 
much to the study of the Confucian texts that he finally cast off 
his Buddhist robe, although he retained his shaven head for 
some time. After him and Kazan, the study of Confucianism 
found its own followers, and the Zen monks were quite satisfied 
to confine themselves, at least officially, to the exposition of their 


own doctrine. We must not. however, forget to notice that, as in 
China, in Japan ever since the introduction of the Sung philos- 
ophy there had been a constant attempt to syncretize the three 
teachings, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Shintoism. One re- 
markable fact deserving notice at this point in the history of 
Japanese thought is that Shintoism, which is regarded as the 
official embodiment of the national spirit of Japan, did not 
assert itself as doctrinally independent of either Confucianism or 
Buddhism. The most probable reason for tbis is that Shintoism 
has no philosophy of its own to stand on; it is awakened to its 
own consciousness and existence only when it comes in contact 
with one of the others, and thereby learns how to express itself. 
It is true that Motoori Norinaga ( 1730-1801 ) and his disciples 
started a vigorous attack on Confucianism and Buddhism as 
imported doctrines not quite congenial to the Japanese way of 
living and feeling. Their patriotic conservatism, however, was 
instigated more by political than by philosophical motives. 
They no doubt helped a great deal to usher in the new Aleiji 
regime, known as the Restoration of 1068. But from the purely 
philosophical point of view, it is highly problematical whether 
their religio-nationalistic dialectic had much of the universal ele- 


Zen and the Samurai 

I T MAY BE considered strange that Zen has in any way been 
affiliated with the spirit of the military classes of Japan. \^'hat- 
ever form Buddhism takes in the various countries where it 
flourishes, it is a religion of compassion, and in its varied 
history it has never been found engaged in warlike activities. 
How is it, then, that Zen has come to activate the fighting spirit 
of the Japanese warrior? 

In Japan, Zen was intimately related from the beginning of 
its history to the life of the samurai. Although it has never 
actively incited them to carry on their violent profession, it has 
passively sustained them when they have for whatever reason 
once entered into it. Zen has sustained them in two ways, morally 
and philosophically. Morally, because Zen is a religion which 
teaches us not to look backward once the course is decided 
upon; philosophically, because it treats life and death indiffer- 
ently. This not turning backward ultimately comes from the 
philosophical conviction; but, being a religion of the will. Zen 
appeals to the samurai spirit morally rather than philosophically. 
From the philosophical point of view, Zen upholds intuition 
against intellection, for intuition is the more direct way of reach- 
ing the Truth. Therefore, morally and philosophically, there 
is in Zen a great deal of attraction for the military classes. 
The military mind, being — and this is one of the essential quali- 
ties of the fighter — comparatively simple and not at all addicted 
to philosophizing finds a congenial spirit in Zen. This is probably 



one of the main reasons for the close relationship between Zen 
and the samurai. 

Secondly, Zen discipline is simple, direct, self-reliant, self- 
denying; its ascetic tendency goes well with the fighting spirit. 
The fighter is to be always single-minded with one object in 
view: to fight, looking neither backward nor sidewise. To go 
straight forward in order to crush the enemy is all that is 
necessary for him. He is therefore not to be encumbered in 
any possible way, be it physical, emotional, or intellectual. Intel- 
lectual doubts, if they are cherished at all in the mind of the 
fighter, are great obstructions to his onward movement, while 
emotionalities and physical possessions are the heaviest of en- 
cumbrances if he wants to conduct himself most efficiently in 
his vocation. A good fighter is generally an ascetic or stoic, 
which means he has an iron will. This, when needed, Zen can 

Thirdly, there is an historical connection between Zen and the 
military classes of Japan. The Buddhist priest Eisai ^ (1141- 
1215) is generally regarded as the first to introduce Zen into 
Japan. But his activities were more or less restricted to Kyoto, 
which was at the time the headquarters of the older schools of 
Buddhism. The inauguration of any new faith here was almost 
impossible owing to the strong opposition they offered. Eisai 
had to compromise to some extent by assuming a reconciliatory 
attitude towards the Tendai and the Shingon. Whereas in 
Kamakura, which was the seat of the Hojo government, there 
were no such historical difficulties. Besides, the Hojo regime was 
militaristic, as it succeeded the Minamoto family, who had risen 
against the Taira family and the court nobles. The latter had 
lost their efficacy as a governing power because of their over- 
refinement and effeminacy and consequent degeneration. The 
Hojo regime is noted for its severe frugality and moral discipline 
and also for its powerful administrative and militaristic equip- 
ments. The directing heads of such a strong governing machine 

^ "Yosai” is the proper pronunciation, I am told. 



embraced Zen as their spiritual guide, ignoring tradition in the 
matter of religion; Zen thus could not help but exercise its 
varied influence in the general cultural life of the Japanese ever 
since the thirteenth century and throughout the Ashikaga and 
even in the Tokugawa period. 

Zen has no special doctrine or philosophy, no set of concepts 
or intellectual formulas, except that it tries to release one from 
the bondage of hirth and death, by means of certain intuitive 
modes of understanding peculiar to itself. It is, therefore, ex- 
tremely flexible in adapting itself to almost any philosophy and 
moral doctrine as long as its intuitive teaching is not interfered 
with. It may be found wedded to anarchism or fascism, com- 
munism or democracy, atheism or idealism, or any political or 
economic dogmatism. It is, however, generally animated with a 
certain revolutionary spirit, and when things come to a dead- 
lock — as they do when we are overloaded with conventionalism, 
formalism, and other cognate isms — Zen asserts itself and proves 
to be a destructive force. The spirit of the Kamakura era was in 
this respect in harmony with the virile spirit of Zen. 

We have the saying in Japan: ‘’The Tendai is for the royal 
family, the Shingon for the nobility, the Zen for the warrior 
classes, and the Jodo for the masses. This saying fitly char- 
acterizes each sect of Buddhism in Japan. The Tendai and the 
Shingon are rich in ritualism and their ceremonies are con- 
ducted in a most elaborate and pompous style appropriate to 
the taste of the refined classes. The Jodo appeals naturally more 
to plebeian requirements because of the simpleness of its faith 
and teaching. Besides its direct method of reaching final faith. 
Zen is a religion of will-power, and will-power is what is urgently 
needed by the warriors, though it ought to be enlightened by 

The first Zen follower of the Hojo family was Tokiyori 
(1227-63), who succeeded his father Yasutoki in the H5jo 
regency. He invited to Hamakura the Japanese Zen masters in 
Kyoto and also some Chinese masters directly from the Southern 



Sung, under whom he earnestly devoted himself to the study of 
Zen. He hnally succeeded in mastering it himself, and this fact 
must have greatly encouraged all his retainers to imitate the ex- 
ample of their master. 

T^'u-an (Gottan: 1197—1276), the Chinese Zen master, under 
whom Tokiyori had his final enlightenment after twenty-one years 
of constant application, composed the following verse for his illus- 
trious disciple; 

1 Jun e no Buddhism about which I can this moment talk to 

Nor have you any mind with which you listen to me hoping 
for an attainment: 

W'here there is neither preaching nor attainment nor mind. 

There Sdkyamuni has a most intimate interview with Bud- 
dha Dipankara. 

After a very successful regency. Tokiyori died in 1263. when 
he was only thirty-seven years old. When he realized that the 
time for departure was approaching he put on his Buddhist robe 
and sat on a straw seat of meditation. After writing his farewell 
song, he passed away quietly. The song reads: 

The karma mirror raised high, 

These thirty-seven years! 

’Tis broken now with one hammer bloiv. 

The Great IFay remains ever serene! 

Hojo Tokimune (12.51-81) was his only son, and when his 
father’s mantle fell on him in 1268 he was only eighteen years 
old. He proved to be one of the greatest personages whom Japan 
has produced. Without him, indeed, the history of the country 
would not be in hat it actually is. He it was who most effectively 
crushed the Mongolian invasions, lasting several years — in fact 
during the v hole length of his regency, 1268-84. It seems that 
Tokimune was almost a heaven-sent agent to stave off the 
direst calamity that might have befallen the nation, for he 



passed away with the termination of the greatest event in the 
history of Japan. His short life was simply and wholly devoted 
to this affair. He was then the body and soul of the whole 
nation. His indomitable spirit controlled the whole situation, and 
his body in the form of a most strongly consolidated army stood 
like a solid rock against the tumultuously raging waves of the 
Western Sea. 

A still more wonderful thing about this almost superhuman 
figure, however, is that he had time and energy and aspira- 
tion to devote himself to the study of Zen under the masters 
from China. He erected temples for them, especially one for 
Bukko Kokushi (1226-86), the National Teacher, which was 
meant also to console the departed spirits both Japanese and 
Chinese at the time of the Mongolian invasions. Tokimune’s 
grave is still in this last-mentioned temple known as Engakuji. 
Some letters are still preserved which were sent to him by his 
several spiritual masters, and from these we know how studiously 
and vigorously he applied himself to Zen. The following story, 
though not quite authenticated, gives support to our imaginative 
reconstruction of his attitude toivards Zen. Tokimune is said to 
have once asked Bukko, ‘‘The worst enemy of our life is cow- 
ardice, and how can I escape it?” 

Bukko answered, ‘‘Cut off the source whence cowardice 

Tokimune: “Where does it come from?” 

Bukko: “It comes from Tokimune himself.” 

Tokimune: “Above all things, cowardice is what I hate most, 
and how can it come out of myself? " 

Bukko: “See how you feel when you throw overboard your 
cherished self known as Tokimune. I will see you again when 
you have done that.” 

Tokimune: “How can this be done? ’ 

Bukko: “Shut out all your thoughts.” 

Tokimune: “How can my thoughts be shut out of conscious- 



Bukko: “Sit cross-legged in meditation and see into the source 
of all your thoughts which you imagine as belonging to 

Tokimune: “I have so much of worldly affairs to look after 
and it is difficult to find spare moments for meditation.” 

Bukko: “Whatever worldly affairs you are engaged in, take 
them up as occasions for your inner reflection, and some day 
you will find out who this beloved Tokimune of yours is.” 

Something like the above must have taken place sometime 
between Tokimune and Bukko. When he received definite re- 
ports about the Mongolian invaders coming over the sea of 
Tsukushi, he appeared before Bukko the National Teacher and 

“The greatest event of my life is at last here.” 

Bukko asked, “How would you face it?” 

Tokimune uttered “Katsu!” ~ as if he were frightening away 
all his enemies actually before him. 

Bukko was pleased and said, “Truly, a lion's child roars like 
a lion.” 

This was the courage with which Tokimune faced the over- 

-"Katsu!” is pronounced “Ho!" in modern Chinese. In Japan when it is 
actually uttered by the Zen people, it sounds like “Katz!” or “Kwdtz!” — a 
somewhat like a in “ah!"’ and tz like tz in German “Blitz.” It is primarily a 
meaningless ejaculation. Since its first use by Baso Doichi (Ma-tsu Tao-i, 
d. 788), from whom it may be said ibat Zen made its real start in China, 
it came to be extensively u«ed by the Zen masters. Rinzai distinguishes 
four kinds of “Katz!” (1) Sometimes the “Katz!” is like the sword of 
Vajraraja; (2) sometimes it is like the lion crouching on the ground; 

(3) sometimes it is like the sounding pole or a bundle of shading grass; 

(4) sometimes it serves no purpose whatever. The third kind of “Katz!” may 
require an explanation. According to a commentator, the sounding pole is 
used by the burglar to find out whetlier or not a house is vacant, whereas 
a bundle of grass is used by the fisherman in a w'ay to entice the fish. In 
Zen. what is most significant among these four “Katz!” is the fourth, when 
the cry ceases to serve any kind of purpose, good or bad, practical or im- 
practical. Someone remarks that Rinzai with all his astuteness omits a fifth 
“Katz!" and then he proceeds to challenge us: “Do you know what that is? 
If you do, let me hate it.” See below, p. 145, n. 6. 


whelming enemies coming over from the continent and success- 
fully drove them back. 

Historically speaking, however, it was not courage alone with 
which Tokimune accomplished the greatest deed in the history 
of Japan. He planned everything that was needed for this task, 
and his ideas were carried out by the armies engaged in the 
different parts of the country to resist the powerful invaders. 
He never moved out of Kamakura, but his armies far out in the 
western parts of Japan executed his orders promptly and effec- 
tively. This was extraordinary in those remote days, when there 
was no speedier method of communication than relay horses. 
Unless he had the perfect confidence of all his subordinates, it 
was impossible for him to achieve such a feat. 

Bukko’s eulogy of Tokimune at his funeral ceremony sums up 
his personality: “There were ten wonders in his life, which 
was the actualization of a Bodhisattva's great pranidhana 
(vows): he was a filial son to his mother; he was a loyal 
subject to his Emperor; he sincerely looked after the welfare of 
the people; studying Zen he grasped its ultimate truth; wielding 
an actual power in the Empire for twenty years, he betrayed no 
signs of joy or anger; sweeping away by virtue of a gale the 
threatening clouds raised by the barbarians, he showed no 
feeling of elation; establishing the Engakuji monastery, he 
planned for the spiritual consolation of the dead [both Japanese 
and Mongolian®]; paying homage to the teachers and fathers 

^ The idea that both friends and enemies when dead are to be equally 
treated with respect originated "with Buddhism: for it leaches that we are all 
of the same Buddha-nature and, while living in this world of particulars, 
may espouse a variety of cau^^es and principles, but these controversies vanish 
when we pass from these individual existences to the other shore of transcen- 
dental wisdom. From the samurai point of view, tlm idoa of loyalty and 
sincerity is emphasized more than anything else: enemies are as faithful to 
their cause as we are to ours, and this sentiment when genuine is to be 
revered wherever and however displayed. Hence one monument dedicated to 
the spirits of friends and foes. The Shimadzu family erected a great stone 
monument at Koya for all those fallen in the Korean war of 1591-98. This 
was no doubt due to the spiritual inlluence of Shimadzu INisshinsai (1492- 



[of Buddhism] he sought for enlightenment — all this proves 
that his coming among us was solely for the sake of the Dharma. 
And then when he was about to depart, he managed to rise 
from his bed. put tbe Buddhist robe I gave him over his en- 
feebled body, and write his death song in full possession of his 
spirit. Such a one as he must be said to be really an en- 
lightened being, or a Bodhisattva incarnate. . . .” 

Tokimune was born great, no doubt, but his study of Zen 
must have helped him a great deal in his dealing with state 
affairs and also in his private life. His wife was also a devout 
Zen follower, and after his death she founded a nunnery in the 
hills just opposite the Engakuji. 

When we say that Zen is for the warrior, this statement has a 
particular significance for the Kamakura period. Tokimune was 
not merely a fighting general, but a great statesman whose object 
was peace. His prayer offered to the Buddha at the time of a 
great religious ceremony performed at the Kenchoji under the 
leadership of the abbot, when an intimation of the first Mon- 
golian invasion was received, runs as follows: 

‘‘The only prayer Tokimune, a Buddhist disciple, cherishes 
is: that the Imperial House continue in prosperity; that for a 
long time to come he [the Emperor] may be the guardian of 
the Buddha’s doctrine; that the four seas remain unruffled with- 
out an arrow being shot; that all evil spirits be kept under 
subjection without a spearhead being unsheathed; that the 
masses be benefited by means of a benevolent administration 
so that they could enjoy a long life in happiness more than 
ever; that the darkness of the human mind be illumined by the 
torch of transcendental wisdom which should he raised high; 

1568). who was one of the greatest scholar-barons of the feudal days, ft is 
interesting to observe that Shimadzu Yoshihiro. one of Nisshinsai's grandsons, 
instituted for his ill-behaved subjects a novel form of punishment known a- 
teru-iri. “entering into the Buddhist monastery.” The offenders, while in the 
monastery, were made to study the Confueian te.xts under the iiersonal super- 
vision of the presiding monk. When they made decided progress in their under- 
standing of the classics, they were restored to their original status. 

Z E N A K D T H E S A M U R A I 69 

that the needy be properly ministered to and those in danger 
be saved by the heart of compassion being widely open. May all 
the gods come and protect us. all the sages extending their 
quiet help, and every hour of the day may there be a great gath- 
ering of auspicious signs! . . 

Tokimune was a great Buddhist spirit and a sincere follower 
of Zen. and it was due to his encouragement that Zen came to be 
firmly established in Kamakura and then in Kyoto and began 
to spread its moral and spiritual influence among the warrior 
classes. The constant stream of intercourse thus started between 
the Japanese and the Chinese Zen monks went even beyond the 
boundaries of their common cause. Books, paintings, porcelains, 
potteries, textiles, and many other objects of art were brought 
from China; even carpenters, masons, architects, and cooks 
came along with their masters. Thus the trading with China 
that later developed in the Ashikaga period had its initiation 
in the Kamakura. 

Led by such strong characters as Tokiyori and Tokimune, 
Zen was auspiciously introduced into the Japanese life, especially 
into the life of the samurai. As Zen gained more and more 
influence in Kamakura it spread over to Kyoto, where it was 
strongly supported by Japanese Zen masters. Tbe latter soon 
found strong followers among meml)ers of the Imperial family, 
headed by the emperors Godaigo. Hanazono. and others. Large 
monasteries were built in Kyoto, and masters noted for their 
virtue, wisdom, and learning were asked to be founders and 
successive abbots of such institutions. Shoguns of the Asliikaga 
regime were also great advocates of Zen Buddhism, and most 
generals under them naturally followed suit. In those days we 
can say that the Japanese genius went either to priesthood or 
to soldiery. The spiritual co-operation of the two professions 
could not help but contribute to the creation of what is now 
generally knowm as Bushido, “’the way of the warrior. ’ 

At this juncture, let me touch upon one of the inner relation- 
ships that exist between the samurai mode of feeling and Zen. 


What finally has come to constitute Bushido, as we generally 
understand it now, is the act of being an unflinching guardian- 
god of the dignity of the samurai, and this dignity consists in 
loyalty, filial piety, and benevolence. But to fulfill these duties 
successfully two things are needed: to train oneself in moral 
asceticism, not only in its practical aspect but in its philosophical 
preparation; and to be always ready to face death, that is, to 
sacrifice oneself unhesitatingly when occasion arises. To do this, 
much mental and spiritual training is needed. 

There is a document that was very much talked about in 
connection with the Japanese military operations in China in 
the 1930’s. It is known as the Hagakure,^ which literally means 
“Hidden under the Leaves,” for it is one of the virtues of the 
samurai not to display himself, not to blow his horn, but to keep 
himself away from the public eye and be doing good for his 
fellow beings. To the compilation of this book, which consists 
of various notes, anecdotes, moral sayings, etc., a Zen monk 
had his part to contribute. The work started in the middle part 
of the seventeenth century under Nabeshima Naoshige. the feu- 
dal lord of Saga in the island of Kyushu. The book emphasizes 
very much the samurai’s readiness to give his life away at any 
moment, for it states that no great work has ever been ac- 
complished without going mad — that is, when expressed in mod- 
ern terms, without breaking through the ordinary level of con- 
sciousness and letting loose the hidden powers lying further 
below. These powers may be devilish sometimes, but there is no 
doubt that they are superhuman and work wonders. When the 
unconscious is tapped, it rises above individual limitations. 
Death now loses its sting altogether, and this is where the 
samurai training joins hands with Zen. 

To quote one of the stories cited in the Hagakure: Yagyu 
Tajima no kami Munenori was a great swordsman and teacher 
in the art to the Shogun of the time, Tokugawa lyemitsu. One 
of the personal guards of the Shogun one day came to Tajima 

^ The full text wa*^ published at Tokyo: Ky'ozaisha. 1937. 2 vols. 



no kami wishing to be trained in swordplay. The master said, 
“As I observe, you seem to be a master of the art yourself; 
pray tell me to what school you belong, before we enter into 
the relationship of teacher and pupil.” 

The guardsman said, “I am ashamed to confess that I have 
never learned the art.” 

“Are you going to fool me? I am teacher to the honorable 
Shogun himself, and I know my judging eye never fails.” 

“I am sorry to defy your honor, but I really know nothing.” 

This resolute denial on the part of the visitor made the 
swordsmaster think for a while, and he finally said, “If you say 
so, that must be so; but still I am sure of your being master of 
something, though I know not just what.” 

“Yes, if you insist, I will tell you this. There is one thing of 
which I can say I am complete master. When I was still a boy, 
the thought came upon me that as a samurai I ought in no 
circumstances to be afraid of death, and ever since I have 
grappled with the problem of death now for some years, and 
finally the problem has entirely ceased to worry me. May this be 
what you hint at?” 

“Exactly!” exclaimed Tajima no kami. “That is what I mean. 
I am glad I made no mistake in my judgment. For the ultimate 
secrets of swordsmanship also lie in being released from the 
thought of death. I have trained ever so many hundreds of my 
pupils along this line, but so far none of them really deserve the 
final certificate for swordsmanship. You need no technical train- 
ing, you are already a master.” " 

The problem of death is a great problem with every one of 
us; it is. however, more pressing for the samurai, for the soldier, 
whose life is exclusively devoted to fighting, and fighting means 
death to fighters of either side. In feudal days nobody could 

•'* Cf. Sec. V. beluw, where the Zen mabter Takuan's letter to Yagyu Tajima 
no kami on "Piajiid Iinimnable' is epitemizeel, pp. 95 ff. This letter is a 
remarkable document, for it definitely establishes a relationship between Zen 
and bword^man'-hip. 


predict when this deadly encounter might take place, and the 
samurai worth his name was always to be on the alert. A war- 
rior-writer of the seventeenth century, Daidoji Yusan, therefore, 
writes in the beginning of his book called a “Primer of 
Bushido” as follows: 

“The idea most vital and essential to the samurai is that of 
death, which he ought to have before his mind day and night, 
night and day, from the dawn of the first day of the year till 
the last minute of the last day of it. When this notion takes firm 
hold of you. you are able to discharge your duties to their 
fullest extent: you are loyal to your master, filial to your par- 
ents, and naturally can avoid all kinds of disasters. Not only is 
your life itself thereby prolonged, but your personal dignity is 
enhanced. Think what a frail thing life is. especially that of a 
samurai. This being so, you will come to consider every day 
of your life your last and dedicate it to the fulfillment of your 
obligations. Never let the thought of a long life seize upon you, 
for then you are apt to indulge in all kinds of dissipation, and 
end your days in dire disgrace. This was the reason why Masas- 
hige is said to have told his son Masatsura to keep the idea of 
death all the time before his mind.” 

The writer of this "Primer” has rightly given expression to 
what has been unconsciously going on in the mind of the 
samurai generally. The notion of death, on the one hand, makes 
one's thought extend beyond the limitations of this finite life, 
and, on the other hand, screws it up so as to take daily life 
seriously. It was. therefore, natural for every sober-minded 
samurai to approach Zen with the idea of mastering death. Zen’s 
claim to handle this problem without appealing either to learn- 
ing or to moral training or to ritualism must have been a great 
attraction to the comparatively unsophisticated mind of the 
samurai. Tliere \\as a kind of logical relationship between 
his psychological outlook and tlie direct practical teaching of 

further, ue read the following in the Ha^akure: "Bushido 

Z E N A ND T H E S A M U R AI 73 

means the determined will to die. When you are at the parting 
of the ways, do not hesitate to choose the way to death. No 
special reason for this except that your mind is thus made up 
and ready to see to the business. Some may say that if you die 
without attaining the object, it is a useless death, dying like a 
dog. But when you are at the parting of the ways, you need 
not plan for attaining the object. We all prefer life to death, 
and our planning and reasoning will be naturally for life. If 
then you miss the object and are alive, you are really a coward. 
This is an important consideration. In case you die without 
achieving the object, it may be a dog-death — the deed of mad- 
ness. but there is no reflection here on your honor. In Bushido 
honor comes first. Therefore, every morning and every evening, 
have the idea of death vividly impressed in your mind. When 
your determination to die at any moment is thoroughly estab- 
lished, you attain to perfect mastery of Bushido, your life will 
be faultless, and your duties will be fully discharged.” 

A commentator adds a verse by Tsukahara Bokuden: “ 

For the samurai to learn 
There’s one thing only. 

One last thing — 

To face death unflinchingly. 

According to Nagahama Inosuke, as told in the Hagakure: 
“The essence of swordsmanship consists in giving yourself up 
altogether to the business of striking down the opponent. [As 
long as you are concerned about your own safety you can never 
win in the fight.] If the enemy, too, is ready to give his life 
to it. you are then well matched. The final outcome will depend 
on faith and fate.” The commentary note on this reads: “Araki 
Matayemon [a great swordsman of the early Tokugawa era] 
gave this instruction to his nephew, Watanabe Kazuma, when 
they were about to engage in the deadly fight with their enemy: 

One of the greatest swordsmen, 1490-1.572. See below for further infor- 
mation about him. 


‘Let the enemy touch your skin and you cut into his flesh; let 
him cut into your flesh and you pierce into his hones: let him 
pierce into your bones and you take his life!’ In another place, 
Araki advises: ‘When you are to measure swords with your 
enemy, be ready at all times to lay down your life before him. 
As long as you are in the least concerned with your escaping 
safely you are doomed.’ ” 

Further, the Hagakure states: “The samurai is good for noth- 
ing unless he can go beyond life and death. When it is said that 
all things are of one mind, you may think that there is such a 
thing as to be known as mind. But the fact is that a mind at- 
tached to life and death must be abandoned, when you can exe- 
cute wonderful deeds.” That is to say, all things are accomplished 
when one attains a mind of "no-raind-ness” according to the 
great Zen master, Takuan, as quoted below. It is a state of mind 
which is no more troubled with the questions of death or of 

Inasmuch as Tsukahara Bokuden was mentioned just now as 
one of those s^sordsmen who really understood the mission of the 
sword, not as a weapon of murder but as an instrument of spir- 
itual self-discipline, let me mention here the two best-known 
incidents in his life: 

When Bokuden was crossing Lake Biwa in a rowboat with a 
number of passengers, there was among them a rough-looking 
samurai, stalwart and arrogant in every possible way. He 
boasted of his skill in swordsmanship, saying that he was the 
foremost man in the art. The fellow passengers were eagerly 
listening to his blatant talk, while Bokuden was dozing as if 
nothing were going on about him. This irritated the braggart 
very much. He approached Bokuden and shook him, saying. 
“You also carry a pair of swords, why not say a word?” An- 
swered Bokuden quietly, ‘Aly art is different from yours; it 
consists not in defeating others, but in not being defeated.’’ This 
incensed the fellow immensely. 

“\^diat is your school then?’’ 


“Mine is known as the mutekatsu school” (which means to 
defeat the enemy “without hands,” that is, without using a 
sword ) . 

“Why. then, do you yourself carry a sword?” 

“This is meant to do away with selfish motives, and not to 
kill others.” 

The man’s anger now knew no bounds, and he exclaimed in 
a most impassioned manner, “Do you really mean to fight me 
with no swords?” 

“Why not?” was Bokuden’s answer. 

The braggart samurai called out to the boatman to row to- 
ward the nearest land. But Bokuden suggested that it would be 
better to go to the island farther off because the mainland 
might attract people who were liable to get somehow hurt. The 
samurai agreed. The boat headed toward the solitary island at 
some distance. As soon as they were near enough, the man 
jumped off the boat and drawing his sword was all ready for a 
combat. Bokuden leisurely took off his own sw’ords and handed 
them to the boatman. To all appearances he was about to follow 
the samurai onto the island, when Bokuden suddenly took the 
oar away from the boatman and, pushing it against the land, 
gave a hard backstroke to the boat. Thereupon the boat made a 
precipitous departure from the island and plunged into the 
deeper w'ater safely away from the man. Bokuden smilingly re- 
marked, “This is my ‘no-sword’ school.” 

Another interesting and instructive anecdote is told of how 
Bokuden’s mastery of the art really went beyond merely acquiring 
proficiency in swordplay. He had three sons, who were all 
trained in swordsmanship. He wanted to test their attainments. 
He placed a little pillow over the curtain at the entrance to his 
room, and it was so arranged that a slight touch on the curtain, 
when it was raised upon entering, would make the pillow fall 
right on one’s head. 

Bokuden called in the eldest son first. When he approached 
he noticed the pillow on the curtain, so he took it down, and 


after entering he placed it back in the original position. The 
second son was now called in. He touched the curtain to raise 
it, and as soon as he saw the pillow coming down, he caught it 
in his hands, and then carefully put it back where it had been. 
It was the third son’s turn to touch the curtain. He came in 
brusquely, and the pillow' fell right on his neck. But he cut it in 
tw'o with his sword even before it came down on the floor. 

Bokuden passed his judgment: “Eldest son. you are well 
qualified for swordsmanship.” So saying, he gave him a sw'ord. 
To the second son he said, “Train yourself yet assiduously.” 
But the youngest son Bokuden most severely reproved, for he 
was pronounced to he a disgrace to his family. 

Takeda Shingen ( 1521-73) and Uyesugi Kenshin f 1530-78 I 
were two great generals of the sixteenth century, when Japan 
was in a state of war within its own boundaries. The two are 
generally mentioned together, for their provinces — the one in 
the north and the other in central Japan — lay close together, and 
they had on several occasions to fight for supremacy. They were 
well matched as able soldiers and good rulers, and they were also 
students of Zen. When Kenshin once learned that Shingen w'as 
suffering very much from lack of salt for his people, he supplied 
his enemy from his own province, which, facing the Japan Sea, 
produced enough salt.' In one of the pitched battles at Kawanaka- 
jima, Kenshin grew impatient, it is said, at the slow progress of 
his army. and. wishing to decide at once the fate of the day, he 
personally rode into the camp of Shingen. Seeing the general 

' The salt famine was caused in Shinficn's province of Kai in this way. 
Kai Is siirKiUnded by mountains, and its people had to get their supply of 
salt from the southern district facing the Pacific Ocean. But .Shingen was 
nut on friendly terms with the feudal lords governing that district, and they 
contrived to withdraw the supply of salt from Kai. Uyesugi Kenshin of Echigo, 
who was also at war with Shingen, heard of it and was very much in- 
censed over the cowardly attitude of those war barons of the Pacific coast. 
He thought that any fighting between them ought to be carried on on a fair 
basis, that is, on the battlefield. He then wrote to Shingen and askeil if the 
latter would accept the needed substance from Echigo. Shingen naturally ap- 
preciated the generosity of his big-hearted rival in the north. 



of the opposing force quietly sitting on a camp chair with a 
few of his guards, Kenshin drew his sword and let it fall 
squarely over the head of Shingen. saying. "What would you 
say at this moment?” — a usual Zen question. Shingen was not 
disturbed at all; answering, "A snowflake on the blazing stove.” 
he warded off the threatening weapon with an iron fan which 
was at the time in his hand. The mondo probably never took 
place, but the story well illustrates how the two intrepid head- 
shaven warriors were Zen-men. 

The way Kenshin came to study Zen in full earnest under 
Yekiwo was thus: When Yekiwo once gave his sermon on 
Bodhidharma’s “I know not,” ^ Kenshin was among the audience. 
He knew something of Zen and wished to test this monk. He 
appeared in the dress of an ordinary samurai indistinguishable 
from the rest, and waited for the opportunity, but the monk 
suddenly turned toward Kenshin and demanded, "0 Lord Gen- 
eral! What is the meaning of Dharma’s T know not’?” Kenshin 
was taken by surprise and did not know what to say. Thereupon 
Yekiwo continued. ‘"0 Lord General, why not give me an answer 
today, when you talk so glibly about Zen on all other occasions?” ^ 

^ Zen Essay s. I. p. 187. 

® Date Masamune’s inter\iew with his Zen monk took place in the follow- 
ing manner. Masamune. whose poems on Mount Fuji are quoted elsewhere 
(pp. 332 f. ) . was a great student of Zen. He wished to ha\e a good abbot 
for the Zen temple where his ancestral spirits were enshrined, and a certain 
monk residing in an insignificant country temple was recommended to him. 
tUishing to test his attainment, he invited the monk to his castle in Sendai. 
The monk, whose name wa-- Rin-an, accepted the invitation, and on the day 
agreed upon he came up to the city. He was at once ushered into Lord Masa- 
mune’s residence. After walking through a long corridor, he was told that 
the Lord was waiting in one of the adjoining rooms. He opened the sliding 
door to enter the room, but nobody was there. So, passing through it. he 
went into another room at the back of it. Still nobody greeted him. Feeling this 
strange, he proceeded further on. hen he opened the door. Lord Masamune 
unexpectedly weh'onied him with a drawn sw'ord, with which he seemed ready' 
to strike the monk, saying, "^^'hat would you say at this moment of life and 
death?" Rin-an seemed not at all frightened at this most extraordinary way 
of greeting on the part of his Lord. He lost no time in stepping forward un- 
derm-ath the sword and, taking hold of Masamune's waist, gave him a severe 
shaking. The great war-god and the lord of the entire northeastern proiinces 


Kenshin’s pride gave way. He now began to study Zen most 
seriously under the leadership of this monk, who used to tell 
him, “If you are really desirous of mastering Zen, it is necessary 
for you once to give up your life and to plunge right into the 
pit of death.” 

Kenshin later left the following admonition for his retainers: 
“Those who cling to life die, and those who defy death live. The 
essential thing is the mind. Look into this mind and firmly take 
hold of it, and you will understand that there is something in 
you which is above birth-and-death and which is neither drowned 
in water nor burned by fire. I have myself gained an insight 
into this samadhi and know what I am telling you. Those who 
are reluctant to give up their lives and embrace death are not 
true warriors.” 

Shingen also made reference to Zen and death in his “Consti- 
tution”: “Pay proper reverence to the gods and the Buddha. 
When your thoughts are in accord with the Buddha's, you will 
gain more power. If your domination over others issues from 
your evil thoughts, you w'ill be exposed, you are doomed. Next, 
devote yourselves to the study of Zen. Zen has no secrets other 
than seriously thinking about birth-and-deatb.” 

From these statements we can see unmistakably that there is 
an inner necessary relationship between Zen and the warrior’s 
life. This is readily explained also from the behavior of the 
Zen masters themselves, who sometimes even seem to make 
sport of death. Shingen’s Zen teacher was Kwaisen, abbot of 
Yerin-ji, in the province of Kai. After Shingen’s death, the 

of Japan then exclaimed, ‘‘What a dangerous trick you play!” Pushing him 
away, the monk retorted, ‘’O this pretentious man!” 

In oiden times, many such encounters took place between Zen monks and 
feudal lords who wanted personally and in a realistic manner to test the 
monks with regard to their dhYuna practice and understanding of Zen. Being 
warriors ^sho had to face death any moment, e\cn in their supposedly peace- 
ful home life, they were to be trained in this objectively and not scholasti- 
cally. They did not want philosophy or religion so called, they wanted only 
some practical guide immediately effective in their professional life. Zen was 
the very thing they needed. 



monastery was besieged by the soldiers of Oda Nobunaga on 
the third of April, 1582, because the abbot refused to give up 
Nobunaga’s enemies, who had taken refuge in it. The soldiers 
forced all the monks, including Kwaisen himself, to go up to 
the top story of the monastery gate. The plan was to burn the 
recalcitrants alive by setting the whole edifice on fire. The monks 
headed by the abbot quietly gathered and sat crossdegged, taking 
their seats in due order in front of the Buddha image. The 
abbot gave his last sermon in his usual manner, saying, ‘'We 
are now encircled by the flames, and how would you revolve 
your Wheel of the Dharma at this critical moment? Let each 
one of you say a word.” Thereupon, eacli expressed himself 
according to his light of understanding. When all were finished, 
the abbot gave his view and all entered into the fiTe-samadhi. 
The abbot’s words were these: 

For a peaceful meditation, tee need not to go to the mountains 
and streams; 

W'hen thoughts are quieted doivn, fire itself is cool and re- 

The Japan of the sixteenth century, from a certain point of 
view, produced many fine specimens of humanity. The country 
was torn to pieces, as it were, politically and socially. All over 
Japan the feudal lords were at war with one another. The 
masses must have suffered very much, but this deadly compe- 
tition for military and political supremacy among the soldier 
classes helped to strain the mental and moral powers to the 
utmost in every possible way. Virility asserted itself in various 
departments of life. We can say that most of the virtues com- 
posing Bushido were formed in this period, and that Shingen 
and Kenshin were typical representatives of the samurai-lords. 
They both were personally brave and never flinched in the face 
of death; they were wise and thoughtful and resourceful not only 
in war but in governing the people under them; they were not 
merely fighters, ignorant and callous, they were accomplished in 



literature and highly religious. It is interesting that both Shingen 
and Kenshin were great Buddhists. Shingen’s secular name is 
Harunobu and Kenshin ’s Terutora, but they are better known by 
their Buddhist titles. They were both educated in youth at 
Buddhist monasteries, and they had their heads shaven in their 
middle years, calling themselves “Nyudo” “ of Buddhism. Ken- 
shin was a celibate and vegetarian like the Buddhist monks. 

Like most Japanese of culture, they loved Nature and com- 
posed poems both in Japanese and in Chinese. One of the 
poems Kenshin wrote while engaged in a campaign in the neigh- 
boring provinces, reads in substance: 

The bracing frosty autumnal air descends upon the soldiers 
in bivouac. 

The night is advancing, the ivild geese in orderly formation 
are seen flying in the moonlight. 

The mountains of Ecchu are silhouetted over against the 
dreamy leaves of Noto Bay — 

What a splendid view this is, and how entranced / am! 

Albeit that we are far away from the people at home, who 
may be thinking of our expedition [beneath the same 

Shingen’s appreciation of Nature was by no means inferior 
to that of his rival in Echigo. When he once visited a Buddhist 
temple in the remoter part of his province, where Acala- 
vidya-raja (Fudo Myoo) was enshrined, the abbot of a monastery 
nearby requested him to pass by it on his way home. Shingen 
first declined the invitation, saying that he was busily preparing 
for a campaign taking place in a few days and would not have 
time to call on the abbot just now, and he added that when he 
came back from the engagement, he would surely visit the 
monastery. But the abbot (who by the way was the one who 

Literally, “entering the path,” that is, the spiritual path or the Buddhist 



later allowed himself to be burned alive in the hands of Oda 
Nobunaga’s soldiers) insisted: “The cherries are just beginning 
to bloom, and I have already set up a fine seat for you where you 
can enjoy the glorious spring. I hope you will not fail to ap- 
preciate the flowers.” 

Shingen acquiesced: “It would not do to set my face against 
the cherries, and then I ought also to mind the pressing invitation 
of the abbot.” 

In appreciation of the fine opportunity to enjoy the flowers 
and an unworldly conversation with the abbot. Shingen com- 
posed the following verse in Japanese: 

If I had not had this invitation from m\ friend, 

How greatly I should have missed this magnificent sight of 
the cherry blossoms! 

The monastery might be found all swathed in snow next 

When I proposed to visit ft." 

Such a disinterested enjoyment of Nature as shown by 
Shingen and Kenshin, even in the midst of warlike activities, is 
known as furyu, and those without this feeling of furyii are 
classed among the most uncultured in Japan. The feeling is not 
merely aesthetical. it has also a religious significance. It is per- 
haps the same mental attitude that has created the custom 
among cultured Japanese of writing a verse in either Japanese 
or Chinese at the moment of death. The verse is known as the 
“parting-with-life verse.” The Japanese have been taught and 

The love of the cherry blossoms among the Japanese seems to be their 
second nature. There once, in the Koi>liikawa dungeon in the da\s of 
the Tokugawa regime, a woman prisoner who was destined to he executed 
before the sifring. She used to look out from her w’indow, and, oh'^erving a 
cherry-tree, she wished to see it bloom. When the sentence was gi\en. she 
expressed her intense desire to see the tree in bloom before '-he parted for- 
ever from this earth. The jailer was a kind-hearted man who under-^tood 
furyu, and he granted her last wi-^h. It i^- said that the woman met her death 
in the happiest spirit. The cherry came to be known by her name, Asatsuma. 


trained to be able to find a moment’s leisure to detach them- 
selves from the intensest excitements in which they may happen 
to be placed. Death is the most serious affair absorbing all one’s 
attention, but the cultured Japanese think they ought to be able 
to transcend it and view it objectively. The custom of leaving a 
farewell song, though not necessarily observed universally by 
the cultured even in feudal days, started in all likelihood in the 
Kamakura period with the Zen monks and their followers. When 
the Buddha passed into Nirvana, he had his disciples about 
him and gave them his farewell exhortation. This must have 
been imitated by the Chinese Buddhists, especially by the Zen 
Buddhists, who left instead of a farewell instruction for their 
followers an expression of their own views of life. 

Takeda Shingen’s farewell words were a quotation from 
Zen literature: 'Tt is largely left to her own natural bodily per- 
fection, and she has no special need to resort to artificial coloring 
and powdering in order to look beautiful.” This refers to the 
absolute perfection of Reality, from which we all come and to 
which we all return and in which we all are; a world of multi- 
tudes passes away and comes again, but what is at the back 
of it always retains its perfect beauty unchangingly. 

Uyesugi Kenshin composed his own verses, the one in 
Chinese and the other in Japanese, thus: 

Even a life-long prosperity is but one cup of sake; 

A life of forty-nine years is passed in a dream; 

I knoiv not ivhat life is, nor death. 

Year in year out — all but a dream. 

Both Heaven and Hell are left behind; 

1 stand in the moonlit dawn. 

Free from clouds of attachment. 

Following are accounts of the deaths of the Kamakura war- 
riors as recorded in the Taiheiki (compiled late in the four- 
teenth century), which will clarify, side by side with those of 


the Yerinji monks, the influence of Zen on Bushido, especially 
in regard to their attitude toward death. 

Among the retainers of H6j5 Takatoki, who was the last of 
the Hojo family, there was one Shiaku Shinsakon Nyudo, not 
very high in the official rank of the samurai hierarchy of 
Kamakura. When he was about to commit suicide to follow his 
master, whose destiny was going to be sealed, he called in his 
eldest son, Saburozaemon, and said to him: “Kamakura is 
doomed, as it is surrounded by enemies on all sides, and I am 
going to share the fate of the master as his loyal follower. But 
you are still young and have not yet been in active service and 
are not so intimately related to the master as I have been. ^ ou 
manage to escape the approaching tragedy, and after saving your 
life you must become a monk and serve the Buddha and look 
after the spiritual welfare of us all. Nobody will blame you for 
doing this.” 

Saburozaemon, however, showed no inclination to follow his 
father’s rational advice, for he said: “Even though I have not 
yet been actively and personally connected with our master, as 
your son I have been brought up under the benevolent protec- 
tion of his grace. If I already followed tlie life of monkhood, it 
would be a different matter. Having been born into the family 
of a samurai, how can I leave you and our master and save 
myself to become a monk? No shame is greater than this. If 
you are to share the destiny of our master, let me be your guide 
to the next world.” Even before he finished his last sentence, he 
disemboweled bimself and gave up the ghost. 

His brother Shiro, observing tbis, hastily prepared to follow 
his example. But the father Nyudo stopped him and said, “Do 
not be so hasty. You must follow order and wait for me.” Shiro 
put his dagger back into its scabbard and sat meekly before his 
father, waiting the latter's further command. The father now told 
him to bring him a chair. He sat in it cross-legged in the 
fashion of a Zen monk, and quietly making ink dipped his 
brush into it and wrote his song of death on a piece of paper: 



Holding forth this sivord, 

I cut vacuity in twain; 

In the midst of the great fire, 

A stream of refreshing breeze! 

When he finished writing, he committed suicide like the brave 
samurai that he was. and Shiro completed the deed by cutting 
off his father’s head in accordance with the samurai code of 
honor. As to himself, using the same sword he pierced his own 
body with it up to the hilt and fell forward on the ground dead. 

At the time of the Hojo downfall, there was another Zen war- 
rior called Nagasaki Jiro Takashige. He called on his Zen 
master, who also happened to be the teacher of Hojo Takatoki. 
and asked. ‘‘How should a brave warrior behave at a moment 
like this?” The Zen teacher at once said, “Go straight forward 
wielding your sword!” The warrior at once perceived what 
it meant. He fought most gallantly until, exhausted, he fell be- 
fore his master, Takatoki. 

This was indeed the kind of spirit Zen cultivated among its 
warrior followers. Zen did not necessarily argue with them about 
immortality of the soul or righteousness or the divine way or 
ethical conduct, but it simply urged going ahead with whatever 
conclusion rational or irrational a man has arrived at. Philosophy 
may safely be left with intellectual minds: Zen wants to act, 
and the most effective act. once the mind is made up, is to go 
on without looking backward. In this respect, Zen is indeed the 
religion of the samurai warrior. 

“To die isagi-yoku” is one of the thoughts very dear to the 
Japanese heart. In some deaths, if this characteristic is present, 
crimes committed by the offenders are judged even charitably. 
Isagi-yoku means “leaving no regrets,” “with a clear conscience,” 
“like a brave man.” “with no reluctance.” "in full possession of 
mind.” and so on. The Japanese hate to see death met irresolutely 
and lingeringly; they desire to be blown away like the cherries 
before the wind, and no doubt this Japanese attitude toward 



death must have gone very well with the teaching of Zen. The 
Japanese may not have any specific philosophy of life, but they 
have decidedly one of death, which may sometimes appear to be 
that of recklessness. The spirit of the samurai deeply breathing 
Zen into itself propagated its philosophy even among the masses. 
The latter, even when they are not particularly trained in the 
way of the warrior, have imbibed his spirit and are ready to 
sacrifice their lives for any cause they think worthy. This has 
repeatedly been proved in the wars Japan has so far had to go 
through. A foreign writer on Japanese Buddhism aptly remarks 
that Zen is the Japanese character. 

This is either from Sir George Sansom’s book on Japan or from the late 
Sir Charles Eliot’s book on Buddhism. It is possible, however, that I got it 
from one of the conversations I had with Dr. Eliot whde he was still alive, 
when he frequently visited Kyoto. fCf. below, pp. 345 f.) 


Zen and Swordsmanship 



“rriHE SWORD is the soul of the samurai”: therefore, when 

X the samurai is the subject, the sword inevitably comes 
with him. The samurai who wishes to be faithful to his vocation 
will have first of all to ask himself the question: blow shall I 
transcend birth and death so that 1 can be ready at any moment 
to give up my life if necessary for my Lord? Tliis means exposing 
himself before the enemy's swordstroke or directing his own 
sword toward himself. The sword thus becomes most intimately 
connected with the life of the samurai, and it has become the 
symbol of loyalty and self-sacrifice. The reverence universally 
paid to it in various ways proves this. 

The sword has thus a double office to perform: to destroy 
anything that opposes the will of its owner and to sacrifice all 
the impulses that arise from the instinct of self-preservation. 
The one relates itself to the spirit of patriotism or sometimes 
militarism, while the other has a religious connotation of loyalty 
and self-sacrifice. In the case of the former, very frequently the 
sword may mean destruction pure and simple, and then it is the 
symbol of force, sometimes devilish force. It must, therefore, be 
controlled and consecrated by the second function. Its consci- 
entious owner is always mindful of this truth. For then destruc- 
tion is turned against the evil spirit. The sword comes to be 
identified with the annihilation of things that lie in the way of 
peace, justice, progress, and humanity. It stands for all that is 
desirable for the spiritual welfare of the world at large. It is 
now the embodiment of life and not of death. 


Zen speaks of the sword of life and the sword of death, and 
it is the work of a great Zen master to know when and how to 
wield either of them. Mahjusrl carries a sword in his right hand 
and a sutra in his left. This may remind us of the prophet 
Mohammed, but the sacred sword of Mahjusrl is not to kill any 
sentient beings, but our own greed, anger, and folly. It is directed 
toward ourselves, for when this is done the outside world, which 
is the reflection of what is within us, becomes also free from 
greed, anger, and folly. Acala (Fudo Myo5 ) also carries a sword, 
and he will destroy all the enemies who oppose the practice of 
the Buddhist virtues. Mahjusrl is positive, Acala is negative. 
Acala's anger burns like a fire and will not be put down until it 
burns up the last camp of the enemy: he will then assume his 
original features as the Vairocana Buddha, whose servant and 
manifestation he is. The Vairocana holds no sword, he is the 
sword itself, sitting alone with all the worlds within himself. In 
the following mondo, “the one sv.ord” signifies this sword: 

Kusunoki Masashige (1294-1336) came to a Zen monastery 
at Hyogo when he was about to meet the overwhelming army 
of Ashikaga Takauji ( 1305—1358) at the Minatogawa. and asked 
the master, “When a man is at the parting of the ways between 
life and death, how should he behave?” Answered the master, 
“Cut off your dualism, and let the one sword stand serenely by 
itself against the sky!”' This absolute “one sword” is neither 
the sword of life nor the sword of death, it is the sword from 
which this world of dualities issues and in which they all have 
their being, it is the Vairocana Buddha himself. You take hold 
of him, and you know how to behave where ways part. 

The sword here represents the force of intuitive or instinctual 
directness, which unlike the intellect does not divide itself, 
blocking its own passageway. It marches onward without looking 
backward or sideways. It is like Chuang-tzu’s dissecting knife 
that cuts along the joints as if they were waiting to be separated. 

^ Litr-rally, “(.ut ofT two hpatls and I»*t oiio ‘^word ‘•tand cold again-^t the 



Chuang-tzu would say then: The joints separate by themselves, 
and then the knife, even after many years of use, is as sharp as 
when it first came from the hands of the grinder. The One 
Sword of Reality never wears out after cutting up ever so many 
victims of selfishness. 

The sword is also connected with Shinto. But I do not think 
that it has attained in this connection so highly developed a spir- 
itual significance as in Buddhism. It still betrays its naturalistic 
origin. It is not a symbol but an object endowed with some 
mysterious power. In the feudal days of Japan, the samurai 
class cherished this kind of idea toward the sword, although it 
is difficult to define exactly what was going on in their minds. 

At least they paid the utmost respect to it: at the samurai’s 
death it was placed beside his bed, and when a child was born 
it found its place in the room. The idea was probably to prevent 
any evil spirits from entering the room that might interfere with 
the safety and happiness of the departed or the coming spirit. 

Here lingers an animistic way of thinking. The idea of a sacred 
sword, too, may be interpreted in this way. 

It is noteworthy that, when making swords, the swordsmith l3-'i 
invokes the aid of the guardian god. To invite him to the 
workshop, the smith surrounds it with consecrated ropes, thus 
excluding evil spirits, while he goes through the ceremony of 
ablution and dons the ceremonial dress in which he works. While 
striking the iron bar and giving it baths of fire and water, the 
smith and his helper are in the most intensified state of mind. 
Confident the god’s help will be given to their work, they exert 
themselves to the limit of their powers, mental, physical, and 
spiritual. The sword thus produced is a true work of art. The 
Japanese sword must reflect something deeply appealing to the 
soul of the people. They look at it, indeed, not as a weapon of 
destruction but as an object of inspiration. Hence the legend of 
Okazaki Masamune the swordsmith and his products. 

Masamune flourished in the latter part of the Kamakura 
era, and his works are uniformly prized by all the sword 


connoisseurs for their excellent qualities. As far as the edge of 
the blade is concerned, Masamune may not exceed Muramasa, 
one of his ablest disciples, but Masamune is said to have some- 
thing morally inspiring that comes from his personality. The 
legend goes thus: When someone was trying to test the sharp- 
ness of a Muramasa, he plaeed it in a current of water and 
watched how it acted against the dead leaves flowing down- 
stream. He saw that every leaf that met the blade was cut in 
twain. He then placed a Masamune, and he was surprised to 
find that the leaves avoided the blade. The Masamune was not 
bent on killing, it was more than a cutting implement, whereas 
the Muramasa could not go beyond cutting, there was nothing 
divinely inspiring in it. The Muramasa is terrible, the Masamune 
is humane. One is despotic and imperialistic, the other is super- 
human, if we may use this form of expression. Masamune almost 
never engraved his name on the hilt, although this was customary 
with swordsmiths. 

The No play Kokaji gives us some idea about the moral 
and religious significance of the sword among the Japanese. 
The play was probably composed in the Ashikaga era. The 
Emperor Ichijo (reigned 986-1011) once ordered a sword to 
be made by Kokaji Munechika. who was one of the great sword- 
smiths of the day. Munechika felt greatly honored, but he could 
not fill the order unless he had an able assistant equal in skill 
to himself. He prayed to the god of Inari, who was his guardian 
god, to send him someone fully competent for the work. In the 
meantime he prepared his sacred platform in due accordance with 
the traditional rites. When all the process of purification was 
completed, he offered this prayer: “The work I am going to 
undertake is not just for my selfish glorification; it is to obey 
the august order of the Emperor who reigns over the entire 
world. I pray to all the gods numbering as many as the sands 
of Ganga to come here and give their help to this humble Mune- 
chika, who is now going to do his utmost to produce a sword 
worthy of the virtue of the august patron.” Looking upward to 



the sky and prostrating himself on the ground, he offers to the 
gods the nusa ~ symbolic of his most earnest desire to accomplish 
the work successfully. Would that the gods might have pity on his 
sincerity! A voice is now heard from somewhere: “Pray, pray, 
0 Munechika, in all humbleness and in all earnestness. The time 
is come to strike the iron. Trust the gods and the work will be 
done.” A mysterious figure appeared before him and helped 
him in hammering the heated iron, which came out of the forge 
in due time with every desirable mark of perfection and auspi- 
ciousness. The Emperor was pleased with the sword, which was 
worthy to be treasured as sacred and merit-producing. 

As something of divinity enters into the making of the sword, 
its owner and user ought also to respond to the inspiration. He 
ought to be a spiritual man. not an agent of brutality. His mind 
ought to be at one with the soul which animates the cold steel. 
The great swordsmen have never been tired of instilling this 
feeling into the minds of their pupils. When the Japanese say 
that the sword is the soul of the samurai, we must remember 
all that goes with it. as I have tried to set forth above: loyalty, 
self-sacrifice, reverence, benevolence, and the cultivation of other 
higher feelings. Here is the true samurai. 


IT W'AS natural, therefore, for the samurai, who carried two 
swords — the longer one for attack and defense and tlie shorter 
one for self-destruction when necessary — to train himself with 
the utmost zeal in the art of swordsmanship. He could never be 
separated from the weapon that was the supreme symbol of his 
dignity and honor. Training in its use was, besides its practical 
purpose, conducive to his moral and spiritual enhancement. It 
was here that the swordsman joined hands with Zen. Although 

“ Or go-hei. It is a pendant of paper cuttings that is symbolically offered 
to the Shinto gods. 



this fact has already been demonstrated to a certain extent, I 
wish to give here further quotations illuminative of the intimate 
relationship between Zen and the sword, in the form of Ta- 
kuan’s " letter to Yagyu Tajima no kami Munenori ^ (1571— 
1646 ) concerning the relationship between Zen and the art of 

As the letter is long and somewhat repetitive. I have con- 
densed or paraphrased it here, trying to preserve the important 
thoughts of the original, and sometimes interpolating explana- 
tions and notes. It is an important document in more ways than 
one. as it touches upon the essential teaching of Zen as well as 
the secrets of art generally. In Japan, perhaps as in other coun- 
tries too, mere technical knowledge of an art is not enough to 
make a man really its master; he ought to have delved deeply 
into the inner spirit of it. This spirit is grasped only when his 
mind is in complete harmony with the principle of life itself, 
that is, when he attains to a certain state of mind known as 
miishin (uu-lisin in Chinese), “no-mind.” In Buddhist phrase- 
ology. it means going beyond the dualism of all forms of life 
and death, good and evil, being and non-being. This is where all 
arts merge into Zen. In this letter to the great master of swords- 
manship, Takuan strongly emphasizes the significance of mushin, 
which may be regarded in a way as corresponding to the concept 
of the unconscious. Psychologically speaking, this state of mind 
gives itself up unreservedly to an unknown “power” that comes 
to one from nowhere and yet seems strong enough to possess 
the whole field of consciousness and make it work for the un- 
known. Hereby he becomes a kind of automaton, so to speak, 
as far as bis own consciousness is concerned. But, as Takuan 
explains, it ought not to be confused with the helpless passivity 

J.j] ’Takuan ( 1573-16 15 1 wa*- the alibot of Daitokuji, in Kyoto. He was in- 

vited by the third Shogun, Toku£:at\a lyemitsu. to come to Tokyo, where 
lyeniit-u built a great Zen temple, called Tokaiji, and made him its founder. 

^ Belonged to a great family of swordsmen flourishing in the early Tokugawa 
era. Tajima no kami was the leather of lyemitbu and studied Zen under 



of an inorganic thing, such as a piece of rock or a block of wood. 
He is ‘’unconsciously conscious” or “consciously unconscious.” 
With this preliminary remark, the following instruction of Ta- 
kuan will become intelligible. 

takuan’s letter to 


Affects Attendant on the Abiding Stage of Ignorance ’ 

“ignorance” ( avidyd) means the absence of enlighten- 
ment, that is, delusion. The ‘‘abiding stage" means ’’the ])oint 
where the mind stops to abide.” In Buddhist training we speak 
of fifty-two stages, of which one is a stage where the mind 
attaches itself to any object it encounters. This attaching is 
known as tomaru, “stopping” or "‘abiding.” Tlie mind stojis 
with one object instead of flowing from one object to another 
[as the mind acts when it follows its own nature]. 

In the case of swordsmanship, for instance, when the opponent 
tries to strike you, your eyes at once catch the movement of his 
sword and you may strive to follow it. But as soon as this takes 
place, you cease to be master of yourself and you are sure to be 
beaten. This is called “stopping.” [But there is another way of 
meeting the opponent’s sword.] 

No doubt you see the sword about to strike you, but do not 
let your mind “stop” there. Have no intention to counterattack 
him in response to his threatening move, cherish no calculating 

^ Mahayana Buddhism sometimes distinguishes fifty-two stages leading up 
to the supreme enlightenment (sambodhi) . “Ignorance” [aiidyd) may be 
regarded as the first of those stages and the “affects’’ [kleia) are affective 
disturbances which accompany those who abide on this stage. In Japanese, 
“ignorance” is mumyd and "affects’ is bonno. 


thoughts whatever. You simply perceive the opponent’s move, 
you do not allow your mind to “stop” with it, you move on just 
as you are toward the opponent and make use of his attack by 
turning it on to himself. Then his sword meant to kill you will 
become your own and the weapon will fall on the opponent 

In Zen, this is known as “seizing the enemy’s spear and using 
it as the weapon to kill him.” The idea is that the opponent’s 
sword being transferred into your hands becomes the instrument 
of his own destruction. This is “no-sword” in your terminology. 
As soon as the mind “stops” with an object of whatever nature — 
be it the opponent’s sword or your own, the man himself bent 
on striking or the sword in his hands, the mode or the measure 
of the move — you cease to be master of yourself and are sure 
to fall a victim to the enemy’s sword. When you set yourself 
against him. your mind will be carried away by him. Therefore, 
do not even think of yourself. [That is to say, the opposition 
of subject and object is to be transcended.] 

For beginners, it is not a bad idea to keep the mind 
thoughtfully applied to their own disciplining. It is important 
not to get your attention arrested by the sword or by the meas- 
ure of its movement. When your mind is concerned with the 
sword, you become your own captive. This is all due to your 
mind being arrested by something external and losing its master- 
ship. This, I believe, is all very well known to you; I only call 
your attention to it from my Zen point of view. In Buddhism, 
this “stopping’" mind is called delusion, hence “Affects Attendant 
on the Abiding-stage of Ignorance.” 

[The swordsman’s “unconscious” and the psychoanalysts’ “un- 
conscious” are not to be confused, for the former is free from 
the notion of the self. The perfect swordsman takes no cognizance 
of the enemy's personality, no more than of his own. For he is an 
indifferent onlooker of the fatal drama of life and death in which 
he himself is the most active participant. In spite of all the 
concern he has or ought to have, he is above himself, he tran- 



scends the dualistic comprehension of the situation, yet he is 
not a contemplative mystic, he is in the thickest of the deadly 
combat. This distinction is to be remembered when we compare 
Eastern culture with Western. Even in such arts as that of 
swordsmanship, in which the principle of opposition is most in 
evidence, the one who is to be most intensely interested in it is 
advised to be liberated from the idea. ] 

Prajha Immovable 

[pRAJNA is possessed by all Buddhas and also by all sentient 
beings. It is transcendental wisdom flowing through the relativity 
of things] and it remains immovable, though this does not mean 
the immovability or insensibility of such objects as a piece of 
wood or rock. It is the mind itself endowed with infinite motili- 
ties: it moves forward and backward, to the left and to the 
right, to every one of the ten quarters, and knows no hindrances 
in any direction. Prajha Immovable is this mind capable of 
infinite movements. 

There is a Buddhist god called Fudo Myoo ( Acala-vidya- 
raja), the Immovable. He is represented holding a sword in his 
right hand and a rope in his left. His teeth are bared and his 
eyes glare angrily. He stands up threateningly in order to destroy 
the devils who try to do harm to Buddha’s teaching. Though 
he is thus seen assuming a realistic form, he is not hiding any- 
where on earth. He is the symbolic protector of Buddhism, 
essentially incarnating Prajiia Immovable for us sentient beings. 
When the ordinary people confront him, they are reminded of 
what he stands for and will refrain from interfering with the 
spread of Buddhist doctrine. The wise, on the other hand, who 
are approaching a state of enlightenment, realize tliat Fudo 
symbolizes Prajna Immovable as the destroyer of delusion. He 
who thus becomes enlightened and carries on his life as ex- 
emplified by Fudo Myoo will not be touched even by devilish 


spirits. The Myoo is the symbol of immovability both of mind 
and body. Not to move means not to ‘"stop” with an object 
that is seen. For as it is seen it passes on and the mind is 
not arrested. When the mind “stops” with each object as it 
is presented, the mind is disturbed %\ith all kinds of thought 
and feeling. The “stopping” inevitably leads to the moving that 
is disturbance. Though the mind is thus subject to “stoppings,” 
it in itself remains unmoved, however superficially it may seem 

For instance, suppose ten men are opposing you, each in suc- 
cession ready to strike you with a sword. As soon as one is 
disposed of, you will move on to another without permitting the 
mind to “stop” with any. However rapidly one blow may follow 
another, you leave no time to intervene between the two. Every 
one of the ten will thus be successively and successfully dealt 
with. This is possible only when the mind moves from one object 
to another without being “stopped” or arrested by anything. 
If the mind is unable to move on in this fashion, it is sure to 
lose the game somewhere between two encounters. 

Kwannon Bosatsu (Avalokitesvara) is sometimes represented 
with one thousand arms, each holding a different instrument. 
If his mind "stops” with the use, for instance, of a bow, all the 
other arms. 999 in number, will be of no use whatever. It is 
only because of his mind not “stopping” with the use of one 
arm but moving from one instrument to another that all his 
arms prove useful wuth the utmost degree of efficiency. Even 
Kwannon cannot be expected to equip himself w ith one thousand 
arms on one body. The figure is meant to demonstrate that, 
when Prajiia Immovable is realized, even as many as one 
thousand arms on one body may each and all be serviceable in 
one w'ay or another. 

I will give another illustration: When I look at a tree, I 
perceive one of the leaves is red, and my mind “stops” with this 
leaf. \^Ten this happens, 1 see just one leaf and fail to take 
cognizance of the innumerable other leaves of the tree. If in- 



stead of this I look at the tree without any preconceived ideas, 
I shall see all the leaves. One leaf effectively “stops” my mind 
from seeing all the rest. But when the mind moves on without 
“stopping,” it takes up hundreds of thousands of leaves without 
fail. When this is understood we are Kwannons. 

The simple-minded how before Kwannon, taking him for an 
extraordinary being simply because his one body is seen as in 
possession of one thousand arms and one thousand eyes. Some, 
however, whose intelligence does not go very far, deny the 
reality of Kwannon, saying, “How can one person be provided 
with so many arms as one thousand?” Those who know the 
reason of things will neither blindly believe nor hastily negate. 
They will discover that it is the wisdom of Buddhism to demon- 
strate the rationality of things by means of one object. This is 
also the case with other schools of teaching, especially with 
Shintoism. Those symbolical figures are not to be taken naively 
as they appear, nor are they to be rejected as irrational. One 
must know' that there is reason in them. Reasons may be varied, 
but they all point ultimately to one truth. 

Beginners all start from the first stage of Ignorance and Af- 
fects, finally reaching that of Prajna Immovable, and when they 
reach the final stage they find that it stands next to the first 
stage. There is reason for this. 

To state it in terms of swordsmanship, the genuine beginner 
knows nothing about the way of holding and managing the 
sword, and much less of his concern for himself. When the 
opponent tries to strike him, he instinctively parries it. This is 
all he can do. But as soon as the training starts, he is taught 
how' to handle the sword, where to keep the mind, and many 
other technical tricks — which makes his mind “stop” at various 
junctures. For this reason whenever he tries to strike the oppo- 
nent he feels unusually hampered; [he has lost altogether the 
original sense of innocence and freedom]. But as days and 
years go by, as his training acquires fuller maturity, his bodily 
attitude and his way of managing the sword advance toward 



‘‘no-mind-ness,” which resembles the state of mind he had at 
the very beginning of training when he knew nothing, when he 
was altogether ignorant of the art. The beginning and the end 
thus turn into nextdoor neighbors. First we start counting one, 
two, three, and when finally ten is counted we return to one. 

In musical scales, one may start with the lowest pitch and 
gradually ascend to the highest. When the highest is reached, 
one finds it located next to the lowest. In a similar way, when 
the highest stage is reached in the study of Buddhist teaching, 
a man turns into a kind of simpleton who knows nothing of 
Buddha, nothing of his teaching, and is devoid of all learning 
or scholarly acquisitions. The Ignorance and Affects character- 
izing the first stage are merged into Prajna Immovable of the 
last stage of Buddhist discipline: intellectual calculations are 
lost sight of and a state of no-mind-ness ( mushin ) or of no- 
thought-ness imunen) prevails. When the ultimate perfection 
is attained, the body and limbs perform by themselves what 
is assigned to them to do with no interference from the mind. 
[The technical skill is so autonomized it is completely divorced 
from conscious efforts.] 

Bukkoku Kokushi ( 1241-1316) of Kamakura has the poem: 

Thou (i’ll not consciously trying to 

guard the rice fields from intruders. 

The scarecrotv is not after all standing 
to no purpose. 

All is like this: The scarecrow in imitation of a human figure 
is erected in the middle of the rice paddies, it holds a bow and 
an arrow as if ready to shoot, and seeing this birds and animals 
are frightened away. This human figure is not endowed with a 
mind, but it scares away the deer. The perfect man who has 
attained the highest stage of training may be likened to it.° All 
is left to the [unconscious or reflexive] activities of the body 

Cf. "The \yijoden Cock,” fiom the Chuang-tzu, in Appendix V, p. 437, be- 



and limbs, whereas the mind itself stops with no objects and at 
no points. Nor is it to be located at any definitely designable 
spot. Yet it here exists all by itself, with no thoughts, no affects, 
resembling a scarecrow in the rice fields. It is the case of a 
simple-minded man whose naive intelligence does not go very 
far, holds to himself, and is not self-assertive. This nonassertive- 
ness also applies to one who has attained the highest degree of 
intelligence. But there are some who know a great deal, and 
just because of this knowledge they put themselves very mucli 
forward. We come across many such these days among people 
of my profession, and I am really ashamed of them. 

We have to distinguish between two ways of training: one is 
spiritual,' the other practical. As I said before, as far as spirit- 
uality is concerned, it is a very simple matter when it is realized 
to its full extent; it all depends on how one gives up one’s own 
Ignorance and Affects and attains to no-mind-ness.® This has 
already been developed step by step. But training in detailed 
technique is also not to be neglected. The understanding of 
principle alone cannot lead one to the mastery of movements 
of the body and its limbs. By practical details I mean such as 
what you call the five ways of posing the body, designated each 
by one character. The principle of spirituality is to be grasped — 
this goes without saying — but at the same time one must be 
trained in the technique of swordplay. But training is never to 
be one-sided. Ri (li) and ji {shih) ° are like two wheels of a 
cart. . . . 

" I do not like this terra in this connection, for it has a certain odium at- 
tached to it. The original Japanese is ri {li in Chinese). It ordinarily means 
“something transcendental,” “something standing in contrast to detailed actu- 
alities,” and is concerned with the innerliness or supersensuousness of things. 

In Japanese the whole sentence reads, ^"Tada isshin no bate yu nite soro." 
literally, “It all depends on how one gives up one’s own mind.” In this ca^e 
‘'mind” is not ‘’one absolute Mind,” but “the mind one ordinarily has,” that 
is, ‘'the mind of ignorance and affects, which stops with an object or experi- 
ence it may have and refuses to be restored to its nathe state of fluidity 
or emptiness or no-inind-ness.” 

^ Ri {li) and ji {shih) are terms used ver>' much in Kegon philosophy. 
Ji is a particular object or event, and ri is a universal principle. As long 



Spark of the Flint Striking Steel 

THIS IS another way of expressing the idea “not to leave a 
hairbreadth interval.” When a flint strikes steel, no moment is 
lost before a spark issues from the contact. This is likened to the 
mind not “stopping” with any one object, and no time being left 
for deliberation, [for affects of any sort to assert themselves]. 
It does not mean just the instantaneity of events happening one 
after another. The point is not to let the mind “stop” with any- 
thing. Mere instantaneity is of no avail if the mind “stops” even 
for a moment. As soon as there is a moment’s “stoppage,” your 
mind is no longer your own, for it is then placed under another’s 
control. When the mind calculates so as to be quick in movement, 
the very thought makes the mind captive. [You are no more 
master of yourself.] 

In Saigyo’s collection of poems (Sankashu) we have: 

As I understand you to be a man 

who has grotvn weary of the world, 

/ only think of you as not at all longing for 
a temporary shelter. 

as these two are kept separate, life loses its freedom and spontaneity, and 
one fails to be master of oneself. Psychologically speaking, this is the un- 
conscious breaking into the field of consciousness when consciousness loses 
itself, abandoning itself to the dictates of the unconscious. Religiously, it is 
dying to one's self and living in Christ or, as Bunan Zenji would say, “liv- 
ing as a dead man." In the case of a swordsman, he must free himself from 
all ideas involving life and death, gain and loss, right and wrong, giving 
himself up to a power which lives deeply in his inner being. Ri and ji are 
then in harmonious co-operation. Bunan’s poem reads: 

While living 
Be a dead man. 

Be thoroughly dead — 

And behave as you like. 

And airs well. 

“Longing for” is Japanese kokoro tomeru, of which Takuan talks so much 
in this letter of his to Yagyu Tajima no kami. The second part of the poem 
may also be translated: “I only think that you would not have your mind 
‘stopped’ with a temporary shelter.” 


This is said to have been composed by a courtesan of Yeguchi. 
The reference I wish to make is to the latter part of the poem 
containing the phrase kokoro tomuna, “not to have the mind 
‘stopped.’ ” For this applies most fittingly to the art of swords- 
manship, which ultimately consists in not having one’s mind 
“stopped” with any object. 

In Zen Buddhism one asks, ‘‘What is Buddha?” and the master 
raises his fist. “What is the ultimate signification of Buddhist 
teaching?” and the master replies, even before the questioner 
fully finishes, “A spray of plum blossoms,” or “The cypress tree 
in the courtyard.” The point concerned here is not necessarily 
the appropriateness of the answer, hut to see the mind not ‘‘stop- 
ping” with anything. Such a mind ‘‘stops” ” neither with the 
color nor with the odor. This “nonstopping” mind in its suchness 
itai) is blessed as a god or honored as a Buddha, which is no 
less than the Zen mind or the ultimate limit of an art. An answer 
given after deliberation to a question such as the above may be 
splendid and full of wisdom, but it is after all at the stage of 
Ignorance and Affects (avidyd-klesa) . 

Zen is concerned with a movement of instantaneity in which 
the flint emits a spark when it strikes steel. It is the same as a 
flash of lightning. A voice calls out ‘‘0 Uyemon!” and the man 
immediately responds to it, “Yes.” Here is Prajna Immovable. 
When the man is called. “0 Uyemon,” he “stops” and deliber- 
ates, wondering, ‘‘What business can it be?” Finally, the answer 
is given, “What is it?’" This comes from a mind abiding in 
Ignorance and Affects. Whenever or wherever it “stops” — this 
is the sign of being moved by something external, which is a 
delusion, and such is said to be the mind of an ordinary being 
belonging to the stage of Ignorance and Affects. 

On the other hand, that which gives an immediate answer to 
the call, “0 Uyemon!” is the prajiid of all Buddhas. Buddhas 

“ Takuan has utsuru here for “stopping” or “stop.” Utsuru is synonymous 
with kokoro wo tomeru. It literally means “drifting or shifting from one thing 
to another,” or “one’s attention being arrested hy an object and being trans- 
ferred onto it and staying there.” 


and all beings are not two, nor are gods and men. God or the 
Buddha is the name given to such a mind [identified with 
prajnd]. The Way of the Gods, the Way of Poetry, the Way of 
Confucius — there may be many Ways (tao), but they all are 
ways of illustrating the One Mind. 

When they just follow the letters and have no true under- 
standing of what the One Mind (Prajfia Immovable) is, they 
abuse it in every possible way throughout their life. They are 
day and night engaged in doing good things and evil things 
according to their karma. They would abandon the family, ruin 
the whole nation, or do anything contrary to the dictates of the 
One Mind. They are all confused and altogether fail to see 
what the One Mind looks like. Unfortunately, there are only a 
few people who have really penetrated into the depths of the 
One jMind. The rest of us are sadly going astray. 

But we must know that it is not enough just to see what the 
Mind is, we must put into practice all that makes it up in our 
daily life. We may talk about it glibly, we may write books to 
explain it, but that is far from being enough. However much 
we may talk about water and describe it quite intelligently, that 
does not make it real water. So with fire. Mere talking of it will 
not make the mouth burn. To know what they are means to ex- 
perience them in actual concreteness. A book on cooking will 
not cure our hunger. To feel satisfied rve must have actual food. 
So long as we do not go beyond mere talking, we are not true 

Confucianism as well as Buddhism strives to explain what the 
One Mind is, but unless life itself conforms to those explanations, 
Buddhist or Confucian, we cannot call ourselves knowers of the 
Mind even though every one of us is in possession of it. The 
reason why those who are devoting themselves to the study of 
Tao are yet unable to see into its ultimate significance is due 
to their relying on mere learning. If they really wish to see the 
One Mind, a deep kufu is needed. . . . 

Kufu has been explained elsewhere. It is not just thinking with the head, 
but the state when the whole body is involved in and applied to the bolving of a 



Where to Locate the Mind 

THE QUESTION is often asked: Where is the mind [or at- 
tention] to be directed? When it is directed to the movements 
of the opponent, it is taken up by them. When it is directed to 

his sword, it is taken up by the sword. When it is directed to 

striking doivn the opponent, it is taken up by the idea of striking. 
When it is directed to your sword, it is taken up by that. When 
it is directed to defending yourself, it is taken up by the idea 
of defense. When it is directed to the pose the opponent as- 
sumes. it is taken up by it. At all events, they say they do not 

know just where the mind is to be directed. 

Some would say: Wherever the mind is directed, the whole 
person is liable to follow the direction and the enemy is sure to 
take full advantage of it, which means your defeat. It is after 
all better to keep the mind in the lower part of the abdomen 
just below the navel, and this will enable one to adjust oneself 
in accordance with the shifting of the situation from moment 
to moment. 

This advice is reasonable enough, but from the ultimate point 

problem. Rodin's The Thinker is typical. The Japanese often talk abt*ut “a^kinj: 
the abdomen,” or ''thinking with the abdomen,” or “seeing or hearing with the 
abdomen.” This i^ hufu. The head is detachable from the body, but the ab- 
domen, which includes the whole system of the viscera, symbolizes the to- 
tality of one's personality. 

It may not be uninstriictive. I think, in this connection, to notice how Ro- 
din's The Thinker is differentiated from Sekkaku's Zen nia'^ter in meditation. 
Both are intently engaged in concentrating the mind on a subject of the utmost 
interest or signifi»’ance. But Rodin’s figure seems to me at Ica^-t to be on the 
jilane of relativity and intellection, while the Oriental one it "omewhere 
hey«»nd it. We al>^o have to notice the difference in the po^'liire a^'-umed by 
each one of the two "thinker®." The one sits on a raised seat while the other 
«<iuat«5 on the ground. The one i® less in contact with earth than the other. 
The Zen "thinker" is rooted in the foundation, as it were, of all thing®, and 
every thought he may is directly connected with the source of being 
from which we ot the earth come. To raise oneself from the giouiul even 
l)y one ffxit means a detachment, a separation, an abstraction, a going away 
to the realm of analv'-is and discrimination. The Oriental way of sitting i® to 
strike the roots down to the center of earth and to be conscious of the Great 
Source where we have our “whence” and “whither." 

[.Via. 3 


of view which is held by Buddhists it is still limited, it is not 
the highest, it is not the supreme end of training. While being 
trained, the keeping of the mind in the lower region of the 
abdomen may not be a bad idea. But it is still the stage of 
reverence, and it also corresponds to what Mencius advises — 
to get the runaway mind “ back in its original seat. As to “the 
runaway mind” I have explained it in another letter for your 

If you try to keep the mind imprisoned in the lower region 
of the abdomen, the very idea of keeping it in one specified 
locality will prevent the mind from operating anywhere else, and 
the result will be the contrary to what had been first intended. 
Then the question may arise: If keeping the mind shut up below 
the navel restricts its free movements, in what part of the body 
shall we keep it? I answer: “When you put it in the right hand, 
it will be kept captive in the right hand, and the rest of the body 
will be found inconvenienced. The result will be the same when 
you put it in the eye or in the right leg or in any other particular 
part of the body, because then the remaining parts of the body 
will feel its absence.” 

The second question is: Where is the mind to be kept after 

A'e/ in Japanese, ching in Chinese. The Confucian scholars, especially those 
of the Sung, consider that the feeling of reverence is of great importance 
in making progress in the study of Tao (the Way). But Zen-men think rev- 
erence is far from being the ultimate end of training. It is meant for begin- 

Hoshin in Japanese, jang-hsin in Chinese. Ho (fang) means “free and 
unrestrained."’ “running wild,” “gone loose,” “lost,” “letting go.” Mencius 
(Book VI, "Kau-tzu") says that jen (“love”) is human mind (“heart") and 
i (“justice”) is human path. It is a pity that people leave the path and do 
not observe it. that people let go the mind and do not seek it. When they let 
loose chickens or dogs, they know they must search for them, but when they 
let go the mind they do not know that they must search for it. The way of 
learning is no more or less than searching fur the heart they have let go. 
Kokoro means both mind and heart, intellect and affection, and is also often 
used in the philosophical sense as subject, substance, or soul. Wherever 
“mind” is mentioned in this letter of Takuan’s, it is to be understood in its 
comprehensive sense. 



I answer; “The thing is not to try to localize the mind any- 
where hut to let it fill up the whole body, let it flow throughout 
the totality of your being. When this happens you use the hands 
when they are needed, you use the legs or the eyes when they 
are needed, and no time or no extra energy will be wasted. [The 
localization of the mind means its freezing. When it ceases to 
flow freely as it is needed, it is no more the mind in its suchness.] 

[Localization is not restricted to the physical side of one’s 
being. The mind may be psychologically imprisoned. For in- 
stance,] one may deliberate when an immediate action is im- 
perative, as in the case of swordsmanship. The deliberation 
surely interferes and “stops” the course of the flowing mind. 
Have no deliberation, no discrimination. Instead of localizing or 
keeping in captivity or freezing the mind, let it go all by itself 
freely and unhindered and uninhibited. It is only when this is 
done that the mind is ready to move as it is needed all over the 
body, with no “stoppage” anywhere. 

Zen-men talk about the right or true {sho) and the partial 
(hen) in their teaching. When the mind fills up the body en- 
tirely, it is said to be right; when it is located in any special 
part of the body, it is partial or one-sided. The right mind is 
equally distributed over the body and not at all partitive. The 
partial mind on the other hand is divided and one-sided. Zen 
dislikes partialization or localization. When the mind is kept 
hardened at one place it fails to pervade or flow over every part 
of the body. When it is not partialized after any schematized 
plan, it naturally diffuses itself all over the body. It thus can 
meet the opponent as he moves about trying to strike you down. 
When your hands are needed they are there to respond to your 
order. So with the legs — at any moment they are needed the 
mind never fails to operate them according to the situation. 
There is no need for the mind to maneuver itself out from any 
localized quarters where it has been prearranged for it to station 

The mind is not to be treated like a cat tied to a string. The 


mind must be left to itself, utterly free to move about ac- 
cording to its own nature. Not to localize or partialize it is the 
end of spiritual training. When it is nowhere it is everywhere. 
When it occupies one tenth, it is absent in the other nine tenths. 
Let the swordsman discipline himself to have the mind go on 
its own way, instead of trying deliberately to confine it some- 

’ ' The main thesis of Takuan’s letter to Yagyu Tajima no kami 
is almost exhausted in the passages translated more or less 
literally above. It consists in preserving the absolute fluidity of 
the mind {kokoro) by keeping it free from intellectual deliber- 
ations and affective disturbances of any kind at all that may 
arise from Ignorance and Delusion. The fluidity of mind and 
Prajna Immovable may appear contradictory, but in actual 
life they are identical. \^lien you have one, you have the other, 
for the Mind in its suchness is at once movable and immovable, 
it is constantly flowing, never ‘'stopping” at any point, and yet 
there is in it a center never subject to any kind of movement, 
remaining forever one and the same. The difficulty is how to 
identify this center of immovability with its never-stopping 
movements themselves. Takuan advises the swordsman to solve 
the difficulty in his use of the sword as he actually stands against 
the opponent. The swordsman is thus made to be constantly 
facing a logical contradiction. As long as he notices it, that is, 
as long as he is logically minded, he finds his movements always 
hampered in one way or another — wffiich is suki^’^ and the 

The following several paragraphs consist mainly of extracts from Takuan’s 
letter paraphrased in modem terms so as to be more intelligible for readers. 
Takuan's original texts and our explanatory interpolations may cause some 
confusion in the minds of readers. But we crave their indulgent patience, for 
a careful perusal will be rewarding not only in understanding the swords- 
man's psychology in relation to what may be called Zen metaphysics hut also 
in clarifying certain aspects of psychology which come up in the study of the 
Oriental arts generally. 

"■ Suki literally means any space between two objects where something else 
can enter. A psychological or mental suki is created when a state of tension 


enemy is sure to avail himself of it. Therefore, the swordsman 
cannot afford to indulge in an idle intellectual employment when 
the other side is always on the alert to detect the slightest suki 
produced on your part. You cannot relax and yet keep the state 
of tension deliberately for any length of time. For this is what 
makes the mind “stop” and lose its fluidity. How then can one 
have relaxation and tension simultaneously? Here is the same 
old contradiction, though presented in a different form. 

When the situation is analyzed intellectually, we can never 
escape a contradiction in one form or another: moving and yet 
not moving, in tension and yet relaxed, seeing everything that 
is going on and yet not at all anxious about the way it may 
turn, with nothing purposely designed, nothing consciously cal- 
culated, no anticipation, no expectation — in short, standing in- 
nocently like a baby and yet with all the cunning and subterfuge 
of the keenest intelligence of a fully matured mind: how can 
this be achieved? No amount of intellection can ever be of any 
help in this paradoxical situation. 

What is known as kufii is the only way to reach this result. 
The kufu is altogether personal and individualistic, it is to 
develop out of oneself, within one’s own inner life. Kufu literally 
means “to strive,” “to wrestle,” “to try to find the way out,” 
or, in Christian terms, “to pray incessantly for God’s help.” 
Psychologically speaking, it is to remove all the inhibitions there 
are, intellectual as well as affective or emotional, and to bring 
out what is stored in the unconscious and let it work itself 
out quite independently of any kind of interfering consciousness. 
The kufu, therefore, will be directed toward how to remove the 
inhibitions, though not analytically. If such an expression is 
permissible, let us say the kufu is to be conatively carried out — 
a process involving one’s whole person; that is to say, it is to be 
totalistic, growing out of the depths of one's own being. 

To make clear the immovability of the most mobile mind, 
Takuan distinguishes the original mind from the delusive mind. 

ib relaxed. More noteb about this in ‘*Zen and Swordbinanbhip,*' 11. p. 143. 
n. 4. 

1 10 


which is an intellectually bifurcated state of consciousness. The 
original mind is a mind unconscious of itself, whereas the de- 
lusive mind is divided against itself, interfering with the free 
working of the original mind. 

The original mind is honshin and the delusive mind is moshin. 
Hon means “original.” “primary,” “real,” “true.” “native,” 
or “natural,” and mo means “not real,” “deceiving” or “de- 
ceived,” "deluded” or “delusive.” Shin is kohoro, that is, "mind” 
in its broad sense. 

The delusive mind may be defined as the mind intellectually 
and affectively burdened. It thus cannot move on from one 
topic to another without stopping and reflecting on itself, and 
this obstructs its native fluidity. The mind then coagulates before 
it makes a second move, because the first move still lingers 
there — which is a suki for the swordsman — the one thing that 
is to be avoided with the utmost scrupulosity. This corresponds 
to the mind conscious of itself iushin no shin in Japanese). To 
be conscious is characteristic of the human mind as distin- 
guished from the animal mind. But when the mind becomes 
conscious of its doings, it ceases to be instinctual and its com- 
mands are colored with calculations and deliberations — which 
means that the connection between itself and the limbs is no 
longer direct because the identity of the commander and his 
executive agents is lost. When dualism takes place, the whole 
personality never comes out as it is in itself. Takuan calls this 
situation “stopping,” “halting.” or “freezing.” One cannot bathe 
in solid ice. he would warn us. Consciousness and its consequent 
dichotomy bring rigidity to the freely-flowing original mind, and 
the delusive mind begins funetioning — which is fatal to the life 
of the swordsman. 

The conscious mind is ushin no shin contrasting with mushin 
no shin, mind unconscious of itself. Mushin literally means “no- 
mind,” it is the mind negating itself, letting go itself from itself, 
a solidly frozen mind allowing itself to relax into a state of 
perfect unguardedness. [We resume Takuan’s own words — ] 



The Mind of No-Mind (Mushin no Skin) 

A MIND unconscious of itself is a mind that is not at all dis- 
turbed by affects of any kind. It is the original mind and not 
the delusive one that is chock-full of affects. It is always flowing, 
it never halts, nor does it turn into a solid. As it has no dis- 
crimination to make, no affective preference to follow, it fills 
the whole body, pervading every part of the body, and nowhere 
standing still. It is never like a stone or a piece of wood. [It 
feels, it moves, it is never at rest.] If it should find a resting 
place anywhere, it is not a mind of no-mind. A no-mind keeps 
nothing in it. It is also called miinen, “no-thought.’' Mushin 
and munen are synonymous.’' 

When mushin or munen is attained, the mind moves from one 
object to another, flowing like a stream of water, filling every 
possible corner. For this reason the mind fulfills every function 
required of it. But when the flowing is stopped at one point, 
all the other points will get nothing of it, and the result will be 
a general stiffness and obduracy. The wheel revolves when it 
is not too tightly attached to the axle. When it is too tight, it 
will never move on. If the mind has something in it, it stops 
functioning, it cannot hear, it cannot see, even when a sound 
enters the ears or a light flashes before the eyes. To have 
something in mind means that it is preoccupied and has no 
time for anything else. But to attempt to remove the thought 
already in it is to refill it with another something. The task is 
endless. It is best, therefore, not to harbor anything in the 
mind from the start. This may be difficult, but when you go on 

Mushin iivu-hsin) or munen {ivu-nien) is one of the most important 
ideas in Zen. It corresponds to the state of innocence enjoyed by the first in- 
habitants of the Garden of Eden, or even to the mind of God when he was 
about to utter his fiat, “Let there be light." Eno (Hui-neng), the sixth patri- 
arch of Zen, emphasizes munen (or mushin) as most essential in the study 
of Zen. When it is attained, a man becomes a Zen-man, and. as Takuan 
would have it, he also a perfect swordsman. 

1 12 


exercising kuju toward the subject, you will after some time 
come to find this state of mind actualized without noticing each 
step of progress. Nothing, however, can be accomplished hur- 

[We paraphrase again. Takuan here notes an ancient poem, 
on some phase of romantic love: 

To think that I am not going 
To think of you any more 
Is still thinking of you. 

Let me then try not to think 
That I am not going to think of you. 

[Before we part with Takuan, I wish to touch upon what may 
be regarded as an eternal paradox, which may run like this: How 
can one keep the mind in this state of no-thinking when its func- 
tion is to think? How can the mind be at once a mind and a not- 
mind? How can "A’' be simultaneously both "A” and '’not-A”? 
The problem is not only logical and psychological, it is also meta- 
physical. The swordsman may have it solved in the most con- 
crete and practical way, for it is for him a matter of life and 
death, whereas most of us can assume a more or less intellectual 
attitude and remain indifferent, as it were. But, philosophically, 
it concerns us in various ways, and it also constitutes the crucial 
point in the study of Oriental thought and culture. The question 
has never been presented to the Western mind, I believe, in the 
way the East faces it. 

[Tradition has it that Yagyu Tajima no kami Munenori left a 
poem to one of his sons expressive of the secret of his school of 
swordsmanship. The poem is a poor one from the literary 

"Td think" is omou in Japanese. Omou means not only "to think” but 
“tfi recollect,” *’to long for,” ‘’to love,” etc. It ha? an affecthe a? well a? an 
intellectual \alue. Tlie word i-? aIino‘*t a general term ff>r anything that goes 
on in one*? mind. Tlierefore, not t«» think iornowafiiii i'. to keep the mind 
utterly empty of all content? — a blank state of emptines? which is mushin or 


ZEN AND S W O R D S M A N S H I P / I 1 1 3 

point of view, as poems of this nature known as doka, “poems 
of Tao,’’ generally are. It runs thus: 

Behind the technique, know that there 
is the spirit ( n) : 

It is dawning note; 

Open the screen. 

And lo, the moonlight is shining in! 

We may say this is highly mystical. The strangest thing, how- 
ever, is: \^Tat has the art of swordplay — which, bluntly speak- 
ing. consists in mutual killing — to do with such content as is 
communicated in the poem on the moon at the break of day? In 
Japan, the dawn-moonlight has rich poetical associations. Yag- 
yu’s allusion to it is understandable from this angle, but what 
has the sword to do with poetry about the moon? What inspira- 
tions is the swordsman expected to get from viewing the moon 
as the day dawns? What secret is here? After going through 
many a tragic scene, which the man must no doubt have wit- 
nessed, with what poetic enlightenment is he expected to crown 
all his past experience? The author is here telling us. naturally, 
to have an inner light on the psychology of swordsmanship. 
Yagyu the master knows that technique alone will never make 
a man the perfect swordplayer. He knows that the spirit ( ri I 
or inner experience ( satori ) must back the art, which is gained 
only by deeply looking into the inmost recesses of the mind 
ikokoro). That is why his teacher Takuan is never tired of 
dilating on the doctrine of emptiness ( sunyatd I , which is the 
metaphysics of mushin no shin ("mind of no-mind"’). Empti- 
ness or no-mind-ness may appear to some to be something most 
remote from our daily experience, but we now realize how in- 
timately it is related to the problem of life and death with which 
most of us nowadays remain unconcerned.] 

[End of Takuan s Letter] 


The gist of Takuan’s advice to Yagyu Tajima no kami can be 
summed up by quoting bis reference to Bukk5 Kokushi’s en- 
counter with the soldiers of the Yiian invading army, which 
Takuan mentions toward the end of his long epistle. The incident 
is told in the section following this. Takuan comments on the 
sword cleaving the spring breeze in a flash of lightning: 

"The uplifted sword has no will of its own, it is all of empti- 
ness. It is like a flash of lightning. The man who is about to be 
struck down is also of emptiness, and so is the one who w ields the 
sword. None of them are possessed of a mind which has any 
suhstantiality. As each of them is of emptiness and has no 
’mind' lAotorol, the striking man is not a man, the sword in 
his liands is not a sword, and the T’ who is about to be struck 
down is like the splitting of the spring breeze in a flash of light- 
ning. \^Ten the mind does not ’stop,’ the sword swinging can- 
not be anything less tlian the blowing of tlie wind. The wind is 
not conscious of itself as blowing over the trees and working 
ha\ oc among them. So with the sword. Hence Bukko's stanza of 
four lines. 

‘‘This ’empty-minded-ness’ applies to all activities w'e may 
perform, such as dancing, as it does to swordplay. The dancer 
takes u[) the fan and begins to stamp his feet. If he has any idea 
at all of displaying his art well, he ceases to be a good dancer, for 
his mind 'stops' witli every movement he goes through. In all 
things, it is important to forget your 'mind’ and become one 
with the work at hand. 

hen w e tie a cat, being afraid of its catching a bird, it 
keeps on struggling for freedom. But train the cat so that it 
would not mind the presence of a bird. The animal is now free 
and can go anywhere it likes. In a similar way, when the mind 
is tied up. it feels inhibited in every move it makes, and nothing 
will be accomplished with any sense of spontaneity. Not only 
that, the work itself will be of a poor quality, or it may not be 
finished at all. 


“Therefore, do not get your mind ‘stopped’ with the sword you 
raise; forget what you are doing, and strike the enemy. Do 
not keep your mind on the person who stands before you. They 
are all of emptiness, but beware of your mind being caught up 
with emptiness itself.” 

To supplement Takuan, the following story is given to illustrate 
the mind of “no-mind-ness”: 

A woodcutter was busily engaged in cutting down trees in the 
remote mountains. An animal called ‘‘satori” appeared. It was a 
very strange-looking creature, not usually found in the villages. 
The woodcutter wanted to catch it alive. The animal read his 
mind: ‘'You want to catch me alive, do you not?” Completely 
taken aback, the woodcutter did not know what to say, irhere- 
upon the animal remarked, ‘You are evidently astonished at 
my telepathic faculty.” Even more surprised, the woodcutter then 
conceived the idea of striking it with one blow of his ax, wlien 
the satori exclaimed, ‘"Now you want to kill me.” The wood- 
cutter felt entirely disconcerted, and fully realizing his im- 
potence to do anything with this mysterious animal, he thought 
of resuming his business. The satori was not charitably disposed, 
for he pursued him, saying. “So at last you have abandoned me.” 

The woodcutter did not know what to do with this animal or 
with himself. Altogether resigned, he took up his ax and, pay- 
ing no attention whatever to the presence of the animal, vigor- 
ously and singlemindedly resumed cutting trees. While so en- 
gaged, the head of the ax flew off its handle, and struck the 
animal dead. The satori. with all its mind-reading sagacity, had 
failed to read the mind of “no-mind-ness.” 

At the last stage of swordsmanship there is a secret teaching 
which is not given to any but a fully qualified disciple. Mere 
technical training is not enough, proficiency in this does not go 
beyond apprenticeship. The secret teaching is known among the 


masters of a certain school as “The Moon in Water.” According 
to one writer, it is explained as follows, which is in truth no more 
than the teaching of Zen — the doctrine of mushin: 

“What is meant by ‘the moon in water’? 

“This is explained variously in the various schools of swords- 
manship, but the main idea is to grasp the way the moon reflects 
itself wherever there is a body of water, which is done in a state 
of mushin ( ‘no-mind-ness’f . One of the imperial poems com- 
posed at the Pond of Hirosawa reads: 

“The moon has no intent to cast its shadow anywhere. 

Nor does the pond design to lodge the moon: 

How serene the water of Hirosawa! 

“From this poem one must get an insight into the secrets of 
mushin, where there are no traces of artificial contrivance, every- 
thing being left to Nature itself. 

“Again, it is like one moon reflecting itself in hundreds of 
streams: the moonlight is not divided into so many shadow's, 
but the w'ater is there to reflect them; the moonlight remains 
ever the same even where there are no waters to hold its reflec- 
tions. Again, it is all the same to the moonlight whether there 
are so many bodies of water, or there is just one little puddle. 
By this analogy tlie mysteries of mind are made easier to under- 
stand. But the moon and water are tangible matter, while mind 
has no form and its working is difficult to trace. The symbols are 
tlms not the whole truth, only suggestive.” 

From all tliese quotations we can see that the Oriental thought 
and culture lays great emphasis on the realization of a psychical 
state of no-rnind-ness [mushin or miinen). When this is not 
lealized. the mind is always conscious of its own doings — which 
Takuan calls “mind-stopping.’' For, instead of flowing, as 


he says, from one object to another, the mind halts and reflects 
on what it is going to do or what it has already done. Recollec- 
tion and anticipation are fine qualities of consciousness which 
distinguish the human mind from that of the lower animals. They 
are useful and serve certain purposes, but when actions are di- 
rectly related to the problem of life and death, they must be 
given up so that they will not interfere with the fluidity of 
mentation and the lightning rapidity of action. The man must 
turn himself into a puppet in the hands of the unconscious. The 
unconscious must supersede the conscious. Metaphysically speak- 
ing, this is the philosophy of sunyata (’‘emptiness”). The tech- 
nique of swordsmanship is based on its psychology, and the 
psychology is a localized application of the metaphysics. 


THE Atlantic Monthly, February, 1937, contains an article by a 
Spanish bullfighter. Juan Belmonte, telling of his own experience 
in the art.^° Bullfighting is evidently very much like the Japanese 
art of swordplay. His story is full of informative suggestions, and 
I quote part of the translator’s note and Juan Belmonte’s own 
account of the fight for which he earned a great reputation as the 
foremost fighter of the day. In this fighting he realized the state 
of mind referred to in Takuan’s letter to Yagyu Tajima no kami; 
if the Spanish hero had had Buddhist training, he would have an 
insight into Prajna Immovable. 

The translator’s note runs, in part: 

“Bullfighting is not a sport, and you can’t compare it with one. 
Bullfighting, whether you like it or not, whether you approve of 
it or not, is an art, like painting or music, and you can only judge 
it as an art: its emotion is spiritual, and it touches depths which 

“The Making of a Bullfighter,” tr. Leslie Charteris. 


can only be compared with the depths that are touched in a man 
who knows and understands and loves music by a symphony 
orchestra under a great conductor.” 

Juan Belmonte describes his psychology at the intensest 
moment of his fight in the following terms: 

■‘As soon as my bull came out I went up to it, and at the third 
pass I heard the howl of the multitude rising to their feet. What 
had I done? All at once I forgot the public, the other bull- 
fighters, myself, and even the bull; I began to fight as I had 
fought so often by myself at night in the corrals and pas- 
tures, as precisely as if I had been drawing a design on a black- 

“They say that my passes with the cape and my work with the 
muleta that afternoon were a revelation of the art of bull- 
fighting. I don’t know, and I’m not competent to judge. I simply 
fought as I believe one ought to fight, without a thought outside 
my own jaith in what I was doing. With the last bull I suc- 
ceeded for the first time in my life in delivering myself body and 
soul to the pure joy of fighting without being consciously aware 
of an audience. When I was playing bulls alone in the country 
I used to talk to them; and that afternoon I held a long conversa- 
tion with the bull, all the time that my muleta was tracing the 
arabesques of the faena. When I didn’t know what else to do with 
the bull I knelt down under its horns and brought my face close 
to its muzzle. 

“ ‘Come on, little bull,’ I whispered. ‘Catch me!’ 

“I stood up again, spread the muleta under its nose, and went 
on with my monologue, encouraging it to keep on charging: — 

“ ‘This way, little bull. Charge me nicely. Nothing’s going to 
happen to you. . . . Here you are. Here you are. ... Do 

-'^The italics are mine. The faith here is an absolute one, corresponding to 
what I call the Unconscious. 

(The word iaena, a few lines further on, means “the last stage of the fight 
terminating with the kill.”) 


you see me, little bull? . . . What? You’re getting tired? . . . 
Come on! Catch me! Don’t be a coward. . . . Catch me!’ 

“I was executing the ideal faena, the faena that I had seen so 
often and in so much detail in my dreams that every line of it 
was drawn in my brain with mathematical exactness. The faena 
of my dreams always ended disastrously, because when I went 
in for the kill the bull invariably caught me in the leg. It must 
have been some subconscious acknowledgment of my lack of 
skill in killing that always dictated this tragic conclusion. 
Nevertheless, I went on realizing my ideal faena, placing myself 
right between the horns of the bull and hearing the acclamation 
of the crowd only as a distant murmur; until at last, exactly 
as I had dreamed it, the bull did catch me and wounded me in 
the thigh. I was so intoxicated, so outside myself, that I scarcely 
noticed it. I went in for the kill, and the bull fell at my feet." 

I may add that before Belmonte had his final encounter with 
the bull his mind was in a most distracted condition: rivalry, 
desire for success, sense of inferiority, feeling for the public 
ready to make fun of him. So he confessed: ‘T ^ras overcome 
with despair. Where had I got the idea that I was a bullfighter? 
‘You’ve been fooling yourself,’ I thought. ‘Because you had 
some luck in a couple of novilladas without picadors, you can do 
anything.’ ” Out of this feeling of despair, however, Belmonte 
discovered something else in him lying hitherto altogether un- 
suspected, when he saw his bull coming out and confronting him. 
This something sometimes came out of his dreams — that is. it 
was sleeping deeply in his Unconscious, but it never came out 
in the broad daylight. The feeling of despair pushed him to the 
very edge of his mental precipice, from which he finally leaped; 
and the result was: “I was so intoxicated, so outside myself, 
that I scarcely noticed it” — not only that he was wounded but 
in fact everything. Prajna Immovable was his guide, he left 
himself entirely to its guidance. Sings Bukkoku Kokushi, a noted 
Zen master of the Kamakura era: 



The bow is broken. 

Arrows are all gone — 

This critical moment: 

No fainting heart cherish. 

Shoot with no delay.''^ 

When a shaftless arrow is shot from a stringless bow. it will 
surely penetrate the rock, as once happened in the history of 
the Far Eastern people. 

In all departments of art as well as in Zen Buddhism, this 
passing of the crisis is considered very important in order to 
reach the source of all creative works. I wish to discuss this 
more specifically from the religio-psychological point of view in 
a separate work on Zen. 


THE s H I N K A G E - R Y II used to be One of the most popular 
schools of swordsmanship in the feudal days in Japan. It 
started in the Ashikaga era, with Kami-idzumi Ise no kami 
Hidetsuna (d. 1577) as its founder. He claimed that he learned 
the secrets of his art directly from the god of Kashima. It no 
doubt has gone through stages of development since then, and the 
so-ealled secrets must have increased in volume, for we have at 
the present day a variety of documents given by the masters to 
their most proficient pupils who were considered worthy of them. 

Here is another by the same author on the same subject: 

Ao target s eretJedy 
i\o bow's drawriy 

And the arrow leaves the string: 

It may not hit. 

But it does not miss! 

This iva- what the late Professor Eugen Heirigel, the author of Zen in the 
Art oj Arrher\, tried to learn from his master. 



Among such documents we find phrases and epigrams in verse 
highly flavored with Zen, which have superficially no connection 
whatever with the use of the sword. 

The final certificate, for instance, which is given to one quali- 
fied to be a master of the school, contains nothing but a circle. 
Tbis is supposed to represent a mirror bright and altogether free 
from film and dust, and its meaning is no doubt the allusion to 
the Buddhist epistemology of the ‘"great-perfect-mirror-wis- 
dom.” ■' which is no other than the Prajfia Immovable of Takuan 
already mentioned. The swordsman’s mind must be kept entirely 
free from selfish affects and intellectual calculations so that ‘'orig- 
inal intuition” is ready to work at its best — which is a state of no- 
mind-ness. Mere technical skill in the use of the sword does not 
necessarily give one full qualification as a swordsmaster. He must 
once realize the final stage of spiritual discipline, which is to at- 
tain no-mind-ness. symbolized as a circle empty of contents — a 
circle with no circumference. 

There is a phrase, among other highly technical terms, in the 
secret documents of the Shinkage-ryu school of swordsmanship, 
which has apparently no connection with the art as far as its 
literal meaning is concerned. As all these secrets are orally 
transmitted and as I am a stranger to them, it is beyond my 
conjecture to find out how this particular phrase obtains its 
organic signification in the actual wielding of the sword. But, 
so far as I can judge, the phrase is derived from Zen literature, 
outside which it cannot mean anything. It reads; “Waters of the 
West River.” A commentator who evidently does not know the 
real purport of it interprets it as indicating a bold venturesome 
daredevil attitude of mind that does not recoil from swallowing 
up the whole river. This is ridiculous, to say the least. It refers 
to a Zen mondo that took place between Baso I Ma-tsu. d. 788). 

Adarsana jnanam, in Sanskrit, which is one of four knowledges ( iiiiinam i 
given by the Yogacara or Vijnaptimatra School of Buddhism. It is the funda- 
mental poetic quality of consciousness in general, which is here compared to 
the illuminating quality of the mirror. 



of the T’ang dynasty, and his lay disciple Ho Koji ( P ang 
Chii-shih). Ho asked: 

"What kind of man is he who does not keep company with 
anything [or anybody]?” 

‘‘1 will tell you,” said Baso, “when you have swallowed up in 
one gulp all the waters of the West River.” 

This is said to have opened the mind of Ho to a state of en- 

When we have this incident in mind, we can understand why 
the phrase “Waters of the West River” has found its way into 
the secret documents of the school of Shinkage-ryu. Ho’s ques- 
tion is a very important one, and so is Baso's answer. In Zen 
discipline this mondo '' is frequently referred to, and there is no 
doubt that among the swordsmen of the feudal days there were 
many wlio gave their lives to the study of Zen in order to attain 
a state of absolute no-mind-ness in connection with their art. As 
has been mentioned elsewhere, the thought of death proves to 
be the greatest stumblinghlock in the outcome of a life-and- 
death combat. To transcend the thought that is a great inhibitory 
factor in the free and spontaneous exercise of the technique ac- 
quired. the best nay for the swordsman is to discipline himself 
in Zen. No amount of swinging the sword will ever qualify the 
man to swallon up the whole est River. It is Zen that performs 
this miracle, and until its successful performance takes place 
no one is expected to do away with the ever-haunting conscious- 
ness of the ghost called death. Zen is not a mere philosophical 
contemplation on the evanescence of life but a most practical 
entrance into the realm of nonrelativity, where a cupful of tea 
in my hand, when spilt, fills in no time the vast expanse of the 
Pacific Ocean, to say nothing of small rivers in some remote 
corners of the planet. 

The secret documents also contain a number of u aka, versified 
epigrams, in regard to the mastery of swordsmanship, some of 
wliich decidedly reflect the spirit of Zen: 

- "Our-lion anil answer." 



Into a soul (kokoro) absolutely free from 
thoughts and emotions. 

Even the tiger finds no room to insert 
its fierce clatvs. 

One and the same breeze passes 
Over the pines on the mountain and the oak 
trees in the valley; 

And ivhy do they give different notes? 

Some think that striking is to strike: 

But striking is not to strike, nor is killing to kill. 

He who strikes and he who is struck — 

They are both no more than a dream that 
has no reality."* 

No thinking, no reflecting , — 

Perfect emptiness: 

Yet therein something moves. 

Following its own course. 

The eye sees it. 

But no hands can take hold of it — 

The moon in the stream: 

This is the secret of my school. 

Clouds and mists — 

They are midair transformations: 

Above them eternally shine the sun and the moon. 

Victory is for the one. 

Even before the combat. 

Who has no thought of himself. 

Abiding in the no-mind-ness of Great Origin. 

As to this and the preceding iiaka, cf. Emerson's ‘'Brahma,” which is 
quoted in full at p. 207. 


These statements are all in correspondence with the principle of 
"emptiness” as taught by Miyamoto Musashi ( d. 1643), Yagyu 
Tajima no kami Munenori, and other great masters, as the ulti- 
mate secret of swordsmanship, whieh is attainable only after a 
long arduous training in the art. This insistence on the spiritual 
discipline entitles the art to be called creative. Musashi was great 
not only as a swordsman but as a sumiye painter. 

Some more poems are given below showing how the spirit 
and even to a certain extent the philosophy of Zen has in- 
fluenced the masters of swordsmanship. They are, of eourse, not 
philosophers; they never try to discuss the philosophy in connec- 
tion with their discipline, for what they aim at has nothing to do 
with the conceptual understanding of the doctrine of emptiness 
or suchness but its personal experiential grasp as they face the 
problem of life and death in the form of the threatening sword 
in the hands of an opponent. The philosopher may take this 
"opponent” or "enemy,” so ealled, not concretely as the swords- 
man does but more in the form of concepts such as “an objec- 
tive world,” or "ultimate reality,” or “Dasein,” or “the given,” 
or "the brute fact,” or “Fen-soi,” or what not. The thinkers 
grapple with these unknown quantities, making use of every 
available source of learning and thinking, but the swordsman’s 
problem is far more urgent and ominous and allows him no 
time for reflection and erudition. He has to “decide” with no de- 
lay, his "courage” is not something he can muster after much 
deliberation. The question is at the door, over the head, “sizzling 
the eyebrows.” If the answer is not forthcoming, all is ruined. 
The situation here is more critical than the philosopher’s. No 
wonder that Zen has come to rescue the swordsman, or the 
swordsman has run to Zen for immediate help. The poems, given 
as secrets of swordplay, all reflect the spirit of Zen, which in- 
evitably involves the philosophy of Zen. All the following 
poems become intelligible when the “West River Waters” of 

I refer here to the thirty-one-syllabic form of expression called the waka 
or uta poem. 



Baso, or Dait5 Kokushi’s uta on the raindrops, as paradoxical as 
Baso’s dictum, is thoroughly comprehended. The uta is given 
first and then the rest: 

If your ears see. 

And eyes hear, 

Not a doubt you’ll cherish — 

How naturally the rain drips 
From the eaves! 

The spring is come, softly blows the wind, 

The peaches and apricots are in full bloom. 

The dews are thick in the autumnal nights, 

The leaves fall from the paulownia tree. 

The flowers, the maple leaves in autumn. 

And the wintry snows covering the field all white — 
How beautiful they are each in its way! 

/ fear my attachments still did not go beyond 
the sensuous, [for I know now what Reality w]. 

Inside the sacred fence before which I bow 
There must be a pond filled with clear water; 

As my mind-moon becomes bright 
I see its shadow reflected in the water. 

Wherever and whenever the mind is found 
attached to anything. 

Make haste to detach yourself from it. 

When you tarry for any length of time 
It will turn again into your old home town.'^ 

-<5 These verses are taken from a book entitled (in translation) “Collected 
V^’orks on Swordsmanship”: Bujutsu Sosho (Tokyo. 1025). 

That is, “stopped." 

That is, a man's old egoistic self. 



Abandon all the arts 
You have learned 
In swordsman ship. 

And in one gulp 

Drink up all the waters of the W est River. 

I thought all the time 
1 was learning how to win; 

Rut I realize now: 

To win is no more. 

No less, than to lose. 

In the ivell not dug. 

In the xvater not filling it, 

A shadow is reflected; 

And a man with no form, no shadow. 
Is drawing water from the well. 

A man with no form, no shadow. 

Turns into a rice pounder 
When he pounds ricefi'’ 


A RECENT WRITER On ‘“the Way of the Sword’' and its 
history ' remarks to the following effect in regard to the prin- 
cijjle of the art: In the Kendo (““the Way of the Sword"), what 
is most essential to attain besides its technique is the spiritual 
element controlling the art throughout. It is a state of mind 
known as munen or musd, “no-thought’’ or “'no-reflection.” This 

, 20] Ilui-n.'ns lEnOi. tlie sixth patriarch of Zen in China, is recorjed to have 

heen ciiyauc,! in iiidiuial work like this ( rice-pounding) when he was under his 
teacher Ilung-jt‘n iGuiiin). 

“ " Takano Hiruma^a. 



does not mean just to be without thoughts, ideas, feelings, etc., 
when you stand with the sword before the opponent. It means 
letting your natural faculties act in a consciousness free from 
thoughts, reflections, or affections of any kind. This state of 
mind is also known as egolessness ( muga or non-dtman ) , in 
which you cherish no egoistic thoughts, no consciousness of your 
own attainments. The so-called spirit of sahi-shiori (‘'solitari- 
ness’' ) , running through Saigyo or Basho. must also have come 
from the psychic state of egolessness. Tliis is often likened to 
the lunar reflection in water. Neither the moon nor water has 
any preconceived idea of producing the incident designated by 
us as ‘‘the moon in water." Water is in a state of “no-mind-ness’’ 
as much as the moon. But when there is a sheet of water, the 
moon is seen in it. The moon is but one. but its reflections are 
seen wherever there is water. Wlien this is understood, your 
art is perfect. Finally, Zen and the Sword’s Way are one in this, 
that both ultimately aim at transcending the duality of life and 
death. From of old, this has been recognized by masters of the 
sword, and the great ones have invariably knocked at the gate 
of Zen — as is instanced in the cases of Yagyu Tajima no kami 
and Takuan and of Miyamoto Musashi and Slumzan. 

The writer of the aforementioned hook gives an interesting 
piece of information: tliat in the feudal days of Japan a master 
of the sword or the spear was often called an ‘'Osho" ( "master" 
or “teacher,” upddhydna in Sanskrit), which is the title com- 
monly given to a Buddhist priest. The origin of this custom is 
traceable to the fact that there was once a great monk in the 
Kofukuji Temple of Nara. Fie belonged to one of the minor 
temples, called Jiz5in, under the jurisdiction of the Kofukuji. 
He w as an expert of the spear, and all the Jizoin monks learned 
the art from him. He was naturally an Osh5 to all his disciples, 
and the title came to be transferred to all the masters both 
of the spear and the sword, irrespective of their Buddhist quali- 

The hall in which swordsmanship is practiced is called a 


Dojo. Dojo is the name of a place devoted to religious exercises, 
and its original Sanskrit meaning, bodhimandala, is the place 
of enlightenment. There is no doubt the name was borrowed 
from Zen Buddhism. 

There is another thing the swordsmen learned from Zen. In 
olden days they used to travel all over Japan in order to perfect 
themselves in the art by experiencing every form of hardship 
which might befall them and by undergoing training in the 
various schools of swordsmanship. The example was furnished 
by the Zen monks, who did the same thing before they attained 
final enlightenment. This practice is known among the monks 
as ongycf. "traveling on foot,’’ whereas the swordsmen call it 
musha-shu^rd, "training in warriorship.” 

1 do not know how early this practice started among the 
swordsmen, but we read about the founder of the Shinkage-ryu 
traveling all over the country. One incident connects him with a 
Zen monk, both of whom were engaged in a similar form of 
training: One day when Kami-idzumi Ise no kami was passing 
through a small village in a remote mountain district, he found 
the people in extreme excitement; for a desperate outlaw had 
taken refuge in a deserted house, snatching away a little village 
boy with him. and threatened to kill the victim if the villagers at- 
tempted to arrest or do harm to the criminal himself. Ise no kami 
realized the grave situation. Seeing a monk pass by. who was no 
doubt a wandering Zen monk, the swordsman asked him to lend 
him his monkisli robe for a while. He had his head shaved so as 
to appear a genuine monk. He approached the deserted house 
with two lunch boxes, and told the outlaw that the child’s parents 
did not wish to see it die of starvation and commissioned him 
to give it something to eat. So saying he threw out one of the 
boxes before the man. Ise no kami then continued: “As you 
yourself may be hungry. 1 had another box prepared for you.” 
When the desperado stretched his arm to receive it, the monk- 
swordsman lost no time in seizing him by the arm and, forcibly 
throwing him down on the ground, made him a complete pris- 



oner. The monkish rohe was returned to its original owner, who 
praised him highly, saying, “You are truly a ‘man of the 
sword,’ ” and gave him a kara lor rakusu), a symbol of monk- 
hood, which is generally carried by a Zen monk over his chest 
hanging from the neck — a kind of abridged kesa {kdsaya in 
Sanskrit). It is said that Ise no kami never parted with it. The 
wandering Zen monk could not have been a mere novice in Zen, 
he must have been one of some understanding. “A man of the 
sword"’ is a phrase much used in Zen to denote a seasoned Zen 
monk who has really gone beyond the bounds of life and death. 
Ise no kami must have indeed had good reason for treasuring 
the kara as a gift from the monk ‘’traveling on foot.” 

It was probably sometime in the seventeenth century that the 
following story was circulated among the swordsmen, showing 
that the relationship between swordplay and Zen was one of the 
topics they were most interested in. The story is. as the author 
suggests, probably a fiction, but the fact that such a story came 
to be told proves that the swordsmen were very much concerned 
with Zen and also that Zen was regarded as something highly 
mystifying and able to achieve some wonders even against an 
expert swordsman. 

The story is quoted from a book called Gekken Sodan, in five 
fascicles, compiled by Minamoto Tokushu in 1844. It is a collec- 
tion of stories of swordsmanship, giving histories of the various 
schools, their founders, and some anecdotes. There was a school 
known as Tesshin-ryu, which flourished in certain localities west 
of Kyoto toward the end of the seventeenth century and extend- 
ing into the eighteenth. The originator of this school was 
known as Otsuka Tesshin. He had a great liking for swordplay 
and while still young became quite an expert. He was ambitious 
and wished to try his skill with men of the same profession out- 
side his own province so as to make his name better known in 
wider circles. He w'as well acquainted with a Zen abbot residing 


at a nearby monastery, and he visited him to say goodbye. The 
abbot's name was Ryuko; he belonged to the Soto sect of Zen 
and was a renowned master of the day. When Tesshin spoke 
to him regarding his enterprise, the abbot advised him against 
it. saying: "We are living in a much wider world than you may 
think, and there must be many men of your profession who 
are far more skillful, and the outcome of your adventure will be 
disastrous.” The young man, however, was obdurate against tak- 
ing the advice kindly. 

Ryuko continued: ‘'Look at myself. I also wanted to be better 
known in the world. I have been practicing meditation here for 
the last few decades, and how many disciples have I now? As to 
yourself, you have hardly anyone calling himself your pupil. We 
each have to know where we are and be content with the situa- 

This incensed Tesshin very much, so that he excitedly ex- 
claimed: “Do you think my sword is of no worth? Swordsman- 
ship is not like your discipline. If I go out of my home town and 
challenge someone well known in his district and beat him, the 
event will naturally be talked about among his friends or pupils. 
If I meet another in another district and defeat him, my reputa- 
tion will gradually be spread throughout the neighborhood. Be- 
sides, I am firmly convinced of my attainment in swordsman- 
ship. I am not afraid of any encounter which may turn up in 
my tour.” 

Ryuk5 could not help smiling at his self-conceit. “You had 
better start w ith the one who is right in front of you. If you come 
out victorious, you may undertake the grand tour throughout 
the whole country. In case, however, you lose, you must promise 
to become a monk and be my disciple.” 

At this Tesshin, laughing heartily, said, “You may be great 
in your Zen, but surely you are no swordsman. If you wish to 
try your luck, however. I am ready.” 

Ryuko gave him a bamboo stick that had been found nearby 

ZEN AND S W O R D S II A N S H I P / I 1 3 I 

and then provided himself with a hossu. ' Tesshin, full of con- 
fidence, tried to knock the Zen master down with one blow of 
his stick. But the stick completely missed the opponent, who was 
no longer within its reach. Tesshin was exasperated and tried 
again and again to reach him, but all to no purpose. Instead, he 
frequently felt the hossu gently sweeping over his face. 

Ryuko finally remarked. “What would you say now?” 

Tesshin’s braggart air was utterly crushed. He humbly ac- 
knowledged his defeat. Ryuko lost no time in calling to his 
attendants to bring; all the needed instruments to cut off Tes- 
shin’s hair and turn him into a regular monk with a shaven head. 

Now iVIinamoto the author comments: This is most likely a 
story fabricated by Zen-men. If Ryuko besides being a Zen 
master were not somehow acquainted with the art of swords- 
manship, he could never beat Tesshin, as is told in the story. 
Otherwise. Tesshin knew nothing of the art as he claimed. It is 
true that there are many points where Zen and swordplay go 
hand in hand. For instance, when they refer to “no room being 
left even for a hair to be inserted between, ’ or of “a spark of the 
flint striking steel,” the dictum applies not only to Zen but also 
generally to the art of swordplay, for no school can ignore going 
through this momentous training. However excellently qualified 
in every way as a Zen master, if he had no training at all in the 
technique of the sword he could never expect to win a contest 
with a full-fledged swordsman. The fact is tliat the perfect art of 
swordsmanship consists in mastery of both technique and prin- 
ciple. While there is no doubt about the all-importance of spirit- 
ual training, one is also to be fully familiar with the practical de- 
tails of swordplay. 

From the professional point of view, Minamoto’s idea is cor- 
rect, I think: a parallel training in technique and principle. But 
there is at least one other school that emphasizes the spiritual side 

Thib is generally carried by a Zen priest. It was originally for shooing 
away inostjuitoes; it consists of a short stick and a tuft of fiorsetail. 



of the art though not necessarily neglecting the technique. Its 
chief exponent, Hori Kintayu (1688—1/55), desired to utilize 
swordsmanship as the means to help one in his spiritual attain- 
ment and character building. His reasoning deserves considera- 
tion in more ways than one, as it sheds light not only on swords- 
manship hut on samuraiship generally. There has been much 
misunderstanding in the West as regards the spirit, function, and 
discipline of the samurai, who were the ruling class of Japan dur- 
ing her feudal days, especially in the Tokugawa regime. Kimu- 
ra‘s point of view, as developed in the Kenjutsu Fushiki Hen 
in regard to Hori the swordsman’s discourse, may be summed up 
as follows; 

The perfect swordsman avoids quarreling or fighting. Fighting 
means killing. How can one human being bring himself to kill a 
fellow being? We are all meant to love one another and not to 
kill. It is abhorrent that one should be thinking all the time of 
fighting and coming out victorious. We are moral beings, we are 
not to lower ourselves to the status of animality. What is the use 
of becoming a fine swordsman if he loses his human dignity? 
The best thing is to be a victor without fighting. 

The sword is an inauspicious instrument to kill in some un- 
avoidable circumstances. When it is to be used, therefore, it 
ought to he the sword that gives life and not the sword that kills. 
But when a man is born into the samurai family, he is not to shun 
learning the art of swordplay, for it is his profession to be 
trained in it. The point is. however, to utilize the art as a means 
to advance in the study of the Way ( too ) . When it is properly 
handled, it helps us in an efficient way to contribute to the culti- 
vation of the mind and spirit. 

One great advantage the sword has over mere book-reading 
is that once you make a false move you are sure to give the op- 

The Kenjutsu Fushiki Hen (“The Unknown in the Art of Swordsman- 
ship”) is a short treati-e on swordplay compiled by Kimnra Kyuhn in 1768. 
Kimura was a disciple of Hori, and he records in this book his master’s 
dialogue with a visitor. The manuscript was printed in 1925. 



ponent a chance to beat you. You have to be on the alert all the 
time. While to be on the alert is not the ultimate of swordsman- 
ship, it keeps you true to yourself: that is to say, you are not 
allowed to indulge in idle thinking. Thinking is useful in many 
ways, but there are some occasions when thinking interferes 
with the work, and you have to leave it behind and let the un- 
conscious come forward. In such cases, you cease to be your 
own conscious master but become an instrument in the hands of 
the unknown. The unknown has no ego-consciousness and con- 
sequently no thought of winning the contest, because it moves at 
the level of nonduality, where there is neither subject nor object. 
It is for this reason that the sword moves where it ought to move 
and makes the contest end victoriously. This is the practical 
application of the Lao-tzuan doctrine of “doing by not doing.” 
Sun-tzu, a great authority on warfare, says: “It is not the best 
thing to win every battle one is engaged in; the best thing is to 
win without planning to tvin. This is perfect victory.” 

To be on the alert means to be deadly serious, to be deadly 
serious means to be sincere to oneself, and it is sincerity that 
finally leads one to discover the Heavenly Way. The Heavenly 
Way is above the self, which is mushin, "no-mind,” or munen, 
“no-thought.” When mushin is realized, the mind knows no 
obstructions, no inhibitions, and is emancipated from the 
thoughts of life and death, gain and loss, victory and defeat. 
As long as a man is possessed of the thought of defeating the 
enemy, his mind will be kept fully occupied with all kinds of 
scheming to attain this end. If, however, the enemy happens to 
be more proficient in technical tactics — which is very likely the 
ease — the defeat will not be on the side of the enemy. If both 
are equally matched, the outcome will be mutual killing. When 
a scheme meets a scheme, this is the inevitable fate. Therefore, 
the perfect swordsman goes beyond all manner of dichotomy, 
and it is in this way that he is more than a mere wielder of the 

The samurai carries two swords, a long and a short, and it is 


his profession to be trained in their use. But he ought not to be 
thinking of exercising power and making an appeal to the sword 
that kills. For the sense of power is always liable to be abused. 
The sword, therefore, is to be an instrument to kill the ego, 
which is the root of all quarrels and fightings. The Yagyu school 
makes "the drinking in one gulp of the waters of the West 
River" the culmination of training in swordsmanship, so far as 
its principle is concerned. The technical details are to be subordi- 
nated to the principle which really constitutes the spiritual 
personality of the swordsman. The school represented by Hori 
Kintayu primarily belongs to the original school of Yagyu 
Tajima no kami, and it was Yagyu himself who traced every 
stage of sword training to Zen Buddhism, as advocated by 
Takuan his teaclier. “The waters of the West River,” as I have 
already stated, comes from Base's answer to Ho the Layman, 
whose question was: “Who is he that stands all alone with no 
company in the midst of the ten thousand objects?” I do not 
know if those swordsmen, who somewhat glibly refer to this 
Zen dictum, all understood what it really meant. Judging from 
the way they write about it, I am afraid they had no personal ex- 
perience of it. While this might have been true, W'hat is most 
remarkable is that they somehow connected “the waters of the 

est River ’ with the ultimate principle that controls the un- 
conscious proceedings of swordsmanship. Even when they had 
all mastered the detailed intricacies of technique, they could 
not be termed perfect swordsmen unless they dived deeply 
into the West River and interviewed “the one who has no com- 
panion in the midst of the ten thousand objects.” Probably the 
motive that prompted Kimura Kyuho, the disciple of Hori 
Kintayu, to write this short treatise on swordsmanship and call 
it “The Unknown in the Art of Swordplay” was that, in his day, 
there were probably very few swordplayers who really under- 
stood Baso. 

Let me finish with the quotation making up the conclusion of 
Kimura’s, or rather Hori’s, dialogue: 



Q. All that you say is fine. I am in complete agreement with 
you. But how difficult it is to apply it to practical details of the 

A. The point is to realize that all that is expressible by sym- 
bols or letters is secondary, that they are no more than mere 
tracks. So Zen masters refuse to acknowledge that letters or 
words are final. What is important is to reach the ultimate sub- 
stance by means of those tracks or letters or symbols. The ulti- 
mate reality itself is not a symbol, it leaves no tracks, it cannot 
be communicated by letters or words, but we come to it by trac- 
ing them to the source where they come forth. As long as we 
stop at symbolization or mere speculation, we cannot realize the 

Q. When we give up symbolization or speculation, are we 
not left in the utter nothingness of tilings? 

A. Yes. it is of the utmost difficulty to come to a realization. 
Therefore, the masterly trainer is always careful to train the 
beginners along the parallel lines of technical exercises and the 
understanding of the principle. The latter may not come to a 
man, even throughout his life, dhe main business is to seek it 
not in things external but within oneself. 

Q. In this case, there is no ‘'secret transmission" in swords- 
manship either? 

A. The last thing can never be transmitted from one person 
to another. It comes from within oneself. All the technical 
discipline is meant to make swordsmen finally see this. It is 
also the case with learning generally. There is not much use in 
mere scholarship, 'i ou may read all the books there are on the 
subject of spiritual training and attainment, but the culmination 
is to realize the mystery of being, and the realization is from 
within yourself, for it cannot come from anywhere else. If it 
does, it is not yours but somebody else's. 

Q. Can you tell me something about this mystery? 

A. All that I can say is that I do not know or that it is not 



Q. If SO, are we meant to remain utter simpletons? 

A. No. not that. It is to know and yet not to know. 

Q. Why? 

A. No why. It is to know as though not knowing. The last 
word I can say is: it is beyond knowledge i fushiki or fuchi) 

Whfii Uodhidhanna ^aw thi- Eiiiiieror \\ u of tin- Liaiiy dynasty, the Em- 
peror a^ke<l, "What the holy ultimate truth.'’” Dhainia answered. "It is 
Emptiness ii~elf and there is nothing holy.” "W ho then is the one who at 
present stands confronting me.''” "1 do not know {fushiki. pu-shihtl" Heki- 
gan-shu ("Blue Rock Collection”; Pi-yen Chi), fasc. 1. case 1. 


Zen and Swordsmanship 



A monk asked Daishu Ekai (Ta-chu Hui-hai),^ one of the 
T’ang masters, when Zen was in its heyday: 

“What is great nirvana?” 

The master answered, “Not to commit oneself to the karma 
of birth-and-death is great nirvdria.” 

“What, then, is the karma of birth-and-death?” 

“To desire great nirvdria is the karma of birth-and-death.” 

In Buddhism, nirvdria and sarhsdra (birth-and-death) are con- 
trasted, and we are told that, in order to attain nirvdria, sarhsdra 
is to be transcended. Daishu’s first answer, therefore, is quite 
correct, but his second answer will puzzle us, because if we did 
not desire nirvdria how could we have it come to us all by itself? 
This does not seem logical. Inasmuch as nirvdria is something 
desirable and all Buddhists are advised to strive after it so as 
to escape this bondage of sarhsdra that causes us to suffer all 
kinds of tribulation, is it not the rational thing for us to desire 
nirvdria and to strive after its attainment by all means? How 
could tbe desire for nirvdria be the karma of birth-and-death? 

Daishu’s answer must be regarded as something utterly irra- 
tional. But the Zen masters are most irrational teachers, and 

^ Ekai was one of the disciples of Baso Doichi (Ma-tsu Tao-i, d. 788). The 
following mondo is taken from his work, Tonga Nyumon Ron, “Treatise on 
Attaining Sudden Enlightenment.” 


they would request us to carry out this irrationality in our daily 
life. It is a great mistake to adjust everything to the Procrustean 
bed of logic and a greater mistake to make logic the supreme test 
in the evaluation of human behavior. What is known as myd or 
mxoyu ■ in Japanese arts comes out when the rationality of 
things ceases to be valued. In fact, all works of original crea- 
tivity are the products of the unconscious that go beyond ra- 
tionalistic schematization. It is not only the jMahayana Buddhists 
but all the Taoist philosophers who are set against intellectuali- 
zation in the matter of spiritual training. For this reason, the 
Zen master declares that nirvana is attained only when it is not 
desired. To desire is to make a choice, and the choosing is intel- 
lection, while nirvana is on the other side of intellection. 

In this connection, a passage from St. Paul’s Epistle to the 
Corinthians might be quoted: “And they that weep, as though 
they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced 
not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they 
that use this world, as not abusing it” (I Cor. 7 ; 30). So let us 
desire nirvana as though we desired not. When this paradox is 
understood we are in possession of nirvana, which is to be as if 
not possessing it. To be consciously unconscious, or to be uncon- 
sciously conscious, is the secret of nirvdria, out of which issues 
the mydyu of creativity. Myd or mydyu is a Japanese word 
signifying "'something defying the challenge of man’s thinking 
powers.” In other words, it is a mode of activity which comes 
directly out of one’s inmost self without being intercepted by the 
dichotomous intellect. The act is so direct and immediate that 
intellection finds no room here to insert itself and cut it to pieces. 

According to another Zen master, “As long as a student of 
Zen entertains any kind of thought in regard to birth-and-death, 
he falls into the path of the devil. As soon as he lets himself cher- 
ish any view, he joins the group of sophistic philosophers.” This 

-Myo imiao in Cliine^p) is “something beyond an analytical understand- 
mg”; yu iyung) is its “rao\eraent” or ‘‘operation.” A fuller explanation is given 
in the next paragraph. 


means that it is only when we are out of an intellectual grip of 
any kind that we transcend birth-and-death and can w'ork freely 
in the mysterious realm of the Unborn, where the artists can 
display myo in all its varieties. A “view” or “thought” is the 
outcome of intellection, and wherever this is found this creativity 
of the Unborn or the Unconscious meets all sorts of obstacles. 
This is the reason why the Zen master advises us not to cherish 
even one “thought” or "view,” negative or affirmative, concern- 
ing birth-and death as well as nirvana. The intellect is meant for 
utilitarianism, and whatever creativity it may have operates 
within this limit and never beyond it. 


THERE is something like this in the art of swordsmanship. I 
call it an art, and it is a deadly art, for when a man makes one 
false move he is sure to lose his life. It is a game of life and 
death. The sword is right before you, ready at any moment to 
strike you down. While in Buddhism we can say that the struggle 
is between the ideas of nirvdria and samsdra, in swordsmanship 
the struggle is between life and death. The Buddhist struggle is 
more on the plane of conceptualism, but the swordsman’s is most 
realistic and therefore psychologically more poignantly felt. But 
as long as both are expressed in terms of struggle and dichotomy, 
the best way and the only way to get out of it, according to the 
ordinary way of thinking, is to choose either horn of the dilemma 
and go ahead, not thinking of the consequences it may bring 
upon the one who has made the decision. This may, in the case 
of the swordsman, mean certain death. But as long as the 
thought of death is in the consciousness, it will unconsciously 
but inevitably lead the swordsman in the direction he is most 
anxious to avoid. The other way then left for him to choose is to 
give up the idea of surviving the combat. For it often happens 
that he who loves life loses it and he who hates life finds it. as 


the Christians would say. But the truth is: You may “love” or 
“hate” anything, but as long as either of the feelings skulks any- 
where in your brain, it will somehow color your behavior, and 
your sword will be affected to that extent. The true swordsman 
must also be “a perfect man” in the Taoist sense; he must be 
above life and death, as the Buddhist philosopher is above 
nirvana and samsara. A struggle of any nature can never be 
settled satisfactorily until the point is touched where neither side 
can affect the other. Not neutrality, not indifference, but tran- 
scendence is the thing needed. And this is exactly what the 
swordsman aims at. It may sound strange that he wishes to be a 
philosopher, but in Japan and also in China the arts are not a 
matter of technology but of spiritual insight and training. 
Swordsmanship is no exception. 

He who transcends the dualistic idea of life and death goes 
on living, in the genuine sense of the term. When there is the 
thought either of life or of death, negatively or positively, this 
will surely prove to be a stumbling block in the way of life. As 
the thought of samsara as well as of nirvaria is to be tran- 
scended in the Buddhist struggle, so with the swordsman, he 
must think of neither life nor death. When he attains to this he 
will be a great genius or a “perfect man” in the art of swords- 

The swordsman may not have any desire for an “eternal life” 
or “immortality,” but he must plan for his sword to be fully 
alive in order that it may exhibit all the secret mydyu ’ en- 

(miao-yung in Chinese) or daiyu (ta-yung), or simply myo, is 
quite a difficult word for English-speaking people to grasp. It is a certain 
artistic quality perceivable not only in works of art but in anything in Na- 
ture or life. The sword in the hands of the swordsman attains this quality 
when it is not a mere display of technical skill patiently learned under the 
tutorship of a good master, for myo is something original and creative grow- 
ing out of one’s own unconscious. The hands may move according to the 
techniciue giten out to every student, but there is a certain spontaneity and 
personal creativity when the technique, conceptualized and universalized, is 
handled by the master hand. Myo may also be applied to the intelligence 
and the instinctive activities of various animals, for example, the beaver 



trusted to it, for his life entirely depends on it, as though not de- 
pending on it. As long as the man resorts to his acquired tech- 
nique in order to put the opponent to defeat, he will have to 
watch the latter’s every sword movement and follow it up to the 
minutest point. This will, however, make his mind “stop” tem- 
porarily, however short this moment of stoppage may be. In- 
stead of keeping his mind in a state of perfect fluidity, so that 
he can strike the enemy the moment the latter shows a suki* he 
will have to have his attention glued to the enemy’s sword. This 
gluing is “stoppage,” and every stoppage means giving an ad- 
vantage to the enemy, which is a suki. Suki literally means “an 
interval of relaxation.” When one is engaged in a struggle of 
life and death, one’s psychology will experience the highest 

building its nest, the spider spinning its web, the wasp or ant constructing 
its castles under the eaves or beneath the ground. They are wonders of Na- 
ture. In fact, the whole universe is a miraculous exhibition of a master mind, 
and we humans who are one of its wonderful achievements have been strain- 
ing our intellectual efforts ever since the awakening of consciousness, and 
are daily being overwhelmed by Nature’s demonstrations of its unfathomable 
and inexhaustive myoyii. The awakening of consciousness has been the great- 
est cosmological event in the course of evolution. We have been able by its 
pragmatic applications to probe into the secrets of Nature and to make use 
of them to serve our way of living, but at the same time we seem to be los- 
ing the many things we have otherwise been enjoying which Nature was lib- 
eral enough to grant us. The function of human consciousness, as I see it, 
is to dive deeper and deeper into its source, the unconscious. And the un- 
conscious has its strata of variable depths: biological, psychological, and 
metaphysical. One thread runs through them, and Zen discipline consists in 
taking hold of it in its entirety, whereas other arts, such as swordsmanship 
or tea, lead us to the comprehension of respectively particularized aspects of 
the string. 

^ Suki, as has already been stated, means “a space betw'een two objects,” 
or “a slit or split or crack in one solid object.” When continuity is broken 
up and a crack begins to show, there is a suki. When tension slackens, cer- 
tain signs of laxity appear — which is suki. In Takuan’s terminology, suki 
corresponds to “stopping.” In swordsmanship, this is taken advantage of by 
the enemy, who is always too ready not to let the opportunity slip away 
vainly. In one of the self-portraits of Miyamoto Musashi, a great swordsman 
and painter of the seventeenth century, his pose would indicate him to be 
full of suki, but he keeps his eyes wide open so as not to allow the opponent 
to make use of the suki that is really only apparent. A great deal of spiritual 
training is needed for a swordsman to reach this stage, properly called “open 
on all sides” (happo biraki). 

[38, 39, il 


degree of keenness, and whenever and wherever the least interval 
of relaxation is caught, the deadly blow will instantly follow from 
the other side. 

^ hat might be called a “psychical stoppage” comes out of a 
very much deeper source. When there is the slightest feeling of 
fear of death or of attachment to life, the mind loses its “fluid- 
ity.” The fluidity is nonhindrance. Have the mind devoid of all 
fear, free from all forms of attachment, and it is master of itself, 
it knows no hindrances, no inhibitions, no stoppages, no clog- 
gings. It then follows its own course like water. It is like the 
wind that bloweth where it listeth. It can further be likened to 
a circle \\hose center is everywhere as it has no circumference. 
Ontologically. the Buddhist philosophers call it a state of empti- 
ness ( sunyatd ) . The artists might not attain to this meta- 
physical height of consciousness, which is really no conscious- 
ness in the ordinary sense. But they must have experienced 
something akin to it. without becoming clearly conscious of it. 
When the swordsman compares his art, as the Zen master does, 
to the moon’s reflection in the water, he must be said to have 
experienced a state of the unconscious in which he holds his 
sword as if not holding it and uses it as if not using it. 

Morally or rather spiritually speaking, this is a state of egoless- 
ness. It is the ego that stands rigidly against things coming from 
the outside, and it is this ego rigidity that makes it impossible 
for us to accept everything that confronts us. We are now no 
more like the babes and sucklings whom God prefers to wise 
men. because those babes have not yet “developed” to the stage 
of intellectual maturity. The intellect divides and discriminates, 
resists and rejects, chooses and decides, and it is by these quali- 
ties that we are prevented from “letting thy will be done.” 
Without the sense of an ego, there is no moral responsibility, 
but the divine transcends morality. So does art. Art lives where 
absolute freedom is. because where it is not. there can be no crea- 
tivity. Freedom and creativity and myoyu are synonymous. The 



art of swordsmanship belongs in this category. Unless the swords- 
man reaches this stage of freedom where he has no ego rigidity, 
he cannot expect to wield the sword that gives life instead of 
taking it. 

The sword is generally associated with killing, and most of us 
wonder how it can come into connection with Zen, which is a 
school of Buddhism teaching the gospel of love and mercy. The 
fact is that the art of swordsmanship distinguishes between the 
sword that kills and the sword that gives life. The one that is 
used by a technician cannot go any further than killing, for he 
never appeals to the sw’ord unless he intends to kill. The case is 
altogether different with the one who is compelled to lift the 
sword. For it is really not he but the sword itself that does the 
killing. He has no desire to do harm to anybody, but the enemy 
appears and makes himself a victim. It is as though the sword 
performs automatically its function of justice, which is the func- 
tion of mercy. This is the kind of sword that Christ is said to 
have brought among us. It is not meant just for bringing the 
peace mawkishly cherished by sentimentalists: it is the sword 
used by Rikyu the teaman for self-immolation: it is the sword 
of Vajraraja recommended by Rinzai ( Lin-chi I " for the use of 
Zen-men; it is the sword Banzan Hojaku I P'an-shan ) ' would 
swing regardless of its lack of utilitarianism. When the sword 
is expected to play this sort of role in human life, it is no more 
a weapon of self-defense or an instrument of killing, and the 
swmrdsman turns into an artist of the first grade, engaged in 
producing a work of genuine originality. 

^ Rikyu, or Sen no Rikyu, was a great teaman. See "Zen and the Art of 
Tea” and "Rikyu and Other Teamen.” 

“Rinzai Gigen ( Lin-ehi I-hsuan, d. 8671 distinguishes four kinds of 
“Katm!" (ho in Chinese I, and one of them is likened to the sacred sword 
of Vajraraja, which cuts and puts to death anything dualistic appearing be- 
fore it. See above, p. 66, n. 2. 

‘Banzan (8th century I , in one of his sermons, compares Zen’s purposeless 
activity to the swinging of the sword in the air. Dentoroku ("Transmission of 
the Lamp"), fasc. 7. 




SOME may ask: How can the sword which implements the will 
to kill work out its function hy itself without the willer’s direc- 
tive behind it? What originality, what creative work, can an in- 
animate mechanical tool be made to carry out all by itself? When 
a tool performs whatever function it is made to perform, can we 
say it has achieved something original? 

The point is: When the sword is in the hands of a technician- 
swordsman skilled in its use, it is no more than an instrument 
with no mind of its own. What it does is done mechanically, 
and there is no mydyu discernible in it. But when the sword is 
held by the swordsman whose spiritual attainment is such that 
he holds it as though not holding it, it is identified with the man 
himself, it acquires a soul, it moves with all the subtleties which 
have been imbedded in him as a swordsman. The man emptied 
of all thoughts, all emotions originating from fear, all sense of 
insecurity, all desire to win, is not conscious of using the sword; 
both man and sword turn into instruments in the hands, as it 
^\ere, of the unconscious, and it is this unconscious that achieves 
wonders of creativity. It is here that swordplay becomes an art. 

As the sword is not separated from the man, it is an extension 
of his arms and accordingly a part of his body. Furthermore, the 
body and the mind are not separated, as they are in the case of 
intellectualization. The mind and the body move in perfect uni- 
son. with no interference from intellect or emotion. Even the 
distinction of subject and object is annihilated. The opponent’s 
movements are not perceived as such and therefore the subject, 
so called, acts instinctually in response to what is presented to 
him. There is no deliberation on his part as to how to react. His 
unconscious automatically takes care of the whole situation. 

The swordsman calls this unconscious ‘The mind that is no- 
mind” (niushin no shin), or "the mind that knows no stopping” 
[tornaranu kokoro), or “the mind abandoned and yet not 



abandoned” {sutete sutenu kokoro), or “the everyday mind” 
(heijd-shin) . The secret of swordsmanship consists in attaining 
to this state of mentality — or, we may call it, spirituality, because 
it is beyond the realm of psychological phenomenalism. Yagyu 
Tajima no kami Munenori (1571—1646), one of the greatest 
swordsmen in the history of the art, taught Tokugawa lyemitsu 
(1604—1651), the third Shogun of the Tokugawa regime. This 
Tajima no kami studied Zen under Takuan (1573-1645) and 
incorporated much of the Zen teaching into his treatise on swords- 
manship. He says that the mind that is no mind is the last stage 
in the art of swordplay. “To be of no-mind” imushin) means 
the “everyday mind” {heijd-shin) , and when this is attained, 
everything goes on well. In the beginning, one naturally en- 
deavors to do his best in handling the sword, as in learning any 
other art. The technique has to be mastered. But as soon as his 
mind is fixed on anything, for instance if he desires to do well, 
or to display his skill, or to excel others, or if he is too anxiously 
bent on mastering his art. he is sure to commit more mistakes 
than are actually necessary. Why? Because his self-conscious- 
ness or ego-consciousness is too conspicuously present over the 
entire range of his attention — which fact interferes with a free 
display of whatever proficiency he has so far acquired or is 
going to acquire. He must get rid of this obtruding self- or ego- 
consciousness and apply himself to the work to be done as if 
nothing particular were taking place at the moment. When things 
are performed in a state of “no-mind” (mushin) or “no- 
thought” (munen) , which means the absence of all modes of 
self- or ego-consciousness, the actor is perfectly free from in- 
hibitions and feels nothing thwarting his line of behavior. If he 
is shooting, he just takes out his bow, puts an arrow to it. 
stretches the string, fixes his eyes on the target, and when he 
judges the adjustment to be right he lets the arrow go. He has 
no feeling of doing anything specifically good or bad, important 
or trivial; it is as if he hears a sound, turns around, and finds 
a bird in the court. This is one’s “everyday mind” [heijd-shin I. 


The swordsman is thus advised to retain this state of mentality 
even when he is engaged in a deadly combat. He forgets the 
seriousness of his situation. He has no thought of life and death. 
His is an “immovable mind” {judo-shin). The fudd-shin is like 
the moon reflected in the stream. The waters are in motion all 
the time, but the moon retains its serenity. The mind moves in 
response to the ten thousand situations but remains ever the 
same. The art culminates here. All the scheming of the intellect 
has been quieted, and no artifice finds room for its demonstration. 

Yagyu Tajima no kami quotes in this connection words of 
Ho Koji ( P’ang the Lay Disciple ) : “It is like the wooden horse 
facing the flowers or birds.” ^ This is the state of mushin (no- 
mind). The wooden horse has no mind, no sentiency. Even 
when it confronts the flowers, or hears a bird singing, it is utterly 
unmoved. Man is altogether different from the wooden horse. He 
has sentiency and is subject to all kinds of stimulation. But when 
he finds himself moved in one way or another, he is committed. 
Even though engaged in the struggle for life, the swordsman 
must not be disturbed, he must remain master of himself, must 
be like the wooden horse, insensible to all the environmental 

The wooden horse’s or wooden cock’s insensibility may lead 
some readers to imagine that Yagyu Tajima no kami wishes 
us to be reduced to a stage of mental atrophy or imbecility.® But 
the fact is far from this, for what he really intends here is to free 
the mind from every possible psychic obstruction or inhibition 
and to restore it to its pristine purity in order to display its native 
activities to the utmost limit. In the case of swordsmanship, this 
is to sharpen the psychic power of seeing in order to act immedi- 
ately in accordance with what it sees. Tajima no kami thinks 
that the seeing must first take place in the mind, and then it is 
transmitted to the eyes, and finally to the body and limbs. The 
latter mode of seeing means acting. As it is not the eyes but 
the inner mind itself that first catches up the movements of the 

® See below, pp. 165, 4.39. See below, pp. 164, 436 ff. 



enemy, the body loses no time in adjusting itself to the situation. 
If it is the physical organ of sight that first perceives the out- 
side world, as our psychologists would tell us, the act that is 
needed to follow up the first perception will have to go through 
the anatomical process of transmission as we have it in our 
medical textbooks. This will, however, be too tortuous a pro- 
cedure for the swordsman in the thick of combat involving life. 
He cannot afford such a luxury or refinement. He must act 
without intellectual jugglery or, as some would call it, tomfoolery. 
Hence Tajima no kami’s most penetrating observation. 

This reminds us of Chuang-tzu’s advice regarding the prac- 
tice of “mind-fasting” {shin-sai). He first refers to a highly 
unified state of consciousness and goes on to say: For instance, 
in hearing do not use the ear, but the mind ( kokoro, hsin ) ; do 
not use the mind but ch’i (spirit). When you use the ear, the 
hearing stops there, and the mind cannot go further than the 
symbol; ch’i is something empty and waiting. Tao abides in 
the emptiness, and the emptiness is mind-fasting.^® 

Ch’i is a difficult term to translate into English. It is some- 
thing imperceptible, impalpable, that pervades the entire uni- 
verse. In one sense, it corresponds to spirit ipneuma), it is 
the breath of heaven and earth. Where Chuang-tzu defines 
“mind-fasting” as seeing and hearing with ch’i, the idea is to 
transcend the centripetence of the ego-consciousness, for as long 
as there is “one thought” {ichi-nen, i-nien) of it in the mind, 
this will surely and efficiently block up the fluidity of move- 
ment and produce a suki for the enemy to take advantage of. 
Chuang-tzu’s “mind-fasting” naturally goes much deeper than 
the art of swordsmanship. For Chuang-tzu is aware, though not 
in the ordinary sense of cognition, of the emptiness (kjo, 
hsii) in which infinite possibilities are harbored, whereas the 

“ An abstract. Chuang Tzu, IV. Cf. Giles’ translation, p. 43. 

This corresponds to the Buddhist idea of sunyatd, emptiness (k'ung), hut 
hsii as conceived by Lao-tzu, Chuang-tzu, and other Taoists still contains 
a residue of relativity and fails to reach the depths of the sunyatd of 
Mahayana Buddhist metaphysics. 



swordsman may be said to have not yet experienced the 
metaphysical source of all things. It is, however, possible for one 
who has seen deeply into the secrets of his art to have also 
touched the ground of reality. The difference between the swords- 
man and the Zen master as regards their insight is this: The 
swordsman’s is restricted to his specialized art, while the master’s 
covers the entirety of existence because of his background and 
equipment and special training. 


IT MAY BE interesting in this connection to quote largely from 
Yagyu Tajima no kami’s treatise on swordsmanship,^^ which 
gives so much insight into the psychology and philosophy of the 
art. The author goes profoundly into the inner experience of his 
profession and shows hoiv essential it is to search thoroughly 
into the spirituality of the art, which is not after all a mere 
system of technology. The wielding of the sword does not mean 
just striking down the opponent, but it is concerned with the 
working of Tao and the harmonious cooperation of yin and 
yang in their cosmological movements. Metaphysics enters 
deeply into swordsmanship. 

Yagyu Tajima no kami was a good student of Zen under 
Takuan, who instructed him well in the spirituality of swordplay. 
According to the Zen master, the art can never be understood 
unless one goes through a system of training in the philosophy 
of Buddhism. Yagyu’s writing thus echoes a great deal of 
Takuan’s point of view, which was quoted previously. This fact 

This was written in 1632 for the benefit of the author^’s sons. It was 
handed down in manuscript form as a secret document not to be perused 
by outsiders. In 1937, Dr. Fukui Kyuzo made a number of such manuscripts 
accessible to the general public. They were written mostly by feudal lords 
and other eminent personages during the Tokugawa regime, and were circu- 
lated among limited circles. The Yagyu manuscript on swordsmanship natu- 
rally shows the influence of Takuan, his Zen teacher. 


can also be gleaned from the way Yagyu divides his treatise 
into three parts, adopting the terms currently used in the Zen 
texts, notably in the “Blue Rock Collection”: (1) “The sword 
that kills,” (2) “The sword that gives life,” and (3) “The 
sword of no-sword.” The first part treats mainly of the tech- 
nique of swordplay; the second touches upon the “mystical” 
Zen aspect leading to the final stage; and this, making up the 
third part, gives the author’s understanding of the Zen experi- 
ence as applied to the art or the way of the sword. 

ON THE ‘mystical S W O R D ’ 

ALL WEAPONS meant to kill are inauspicious, and must never 
be used except on occasions of extreme urgency. If any at all 
is to be used, however, let it be known that it is only for the 
purpose of punishing evils and not for depriving one of life. To 
understand this, learning is the first requisite. But mere learning 
will never do. It is an entrance gate through which one is to 
proceed to the residence proper to interview the master himself. 
The master is Tao (truth). Tao is above mere learning, but 
without learning one cannot expect to reach the ultimate Tao. 
Tao is reached when one’s mind is entirely emptied of delusive 
thoughts and intriguing feelings. And wlien Tao is thus finally 
realized, you have the knowledge of all things, but this knowledge 

^ In the following pages I have freely rulled passages from Yagyu’s text 
disregarding the divisions, in order to present Yagyu's philo-nphy of sword- 
play as I understand it. The original is too long, too full of diffieult 
terminologj' remote from modern thought, to be rendered into any of the 
Indo-European languages. Any translation of this sort of literature is inevita- 
bly an interpretation largely admixed with the translator’s ideas and back- 
ground. It is chiefly for this reason that I have not attempted to mark off 
Yagyu's words from mine. They are hopelessly mixed up. I hope that, some 
day, someone will strive to write specifically about what may be designated 
as the psychology of Zen applied to various fields of art in its development 
in the Far East. 


is not to obstruct your living in Tao. For learning and knowledge 
are after all meant to be “forgotten,” and it is only when this is 
realized that you feel perfectly comfortable in your transaction 
of business of any kind. As long as you have the sense of some- 
thing still missing or, on the other hand, clinging on to you, 
you will be haunted by the feeling either of insufficiency or of 
“being bound” by something, and there will be no freedom for 

When a man in the beginning of his life is ignorant of every- 
thing, he has no scruples, finds no obstacles, no inhibitions. 
But after a while he starts to learn, and becomes timid, cautious, 
and begins to feel something choking in his mind, which pre- 
vents him from going ahead as he used to before he had any 
learning. Learning is needed, but the point is not to become its 
slave. You must be its master so that you can use it when you 
want it. You have to apply this psychology to swordplay. The 
swordsman must not harbor anything external and superfluous 
in his mind, his mind must be perfectly purged of all egocentric 
emotions. When this is carried out and the mind itself is “lost” 
so that even devils cannot trace its whereabouts, he can for the 
first time make full use of the technique he has acquired. No, 
he goes even further than this, because he now forgets all that 
he has learned, because he is the learning itself and there is no 
separation of learner and learning. Indeed, this is the ultimate 
goal of discipline in all arts where learning gained is learning 

However well a man may be trained in the art, the swordsman 
can never be the master of his technical knowledge unless all 
his psychic hindrances are removed and he can keep the mind 
in the state of emptiness, even purged of whatever technique 
he has obtained. The entire body together with the four limbs 
will then be capable of displaying for the first time and to its full 
extent all the art acquired by the training of several years. They 
will move as if automatically, with no conscious efforts on the 
part of the swordsman himself. His activities will be a perfect 



model of swordplay. All the training is there, but the mind is 
utterly unconscious of it. The mind, it may be said, does not 
know where it is. When this is realized, with all the training 
thrown to the wind, with a mind perfectly unaware of its own 
workings, with the self vanishing nowhere anybody knows, the 
art of swordsmanship attains its perfection, and one who has it 
is called a meijin (“genius”). 

Yagyu Tajima no kami then proceeds to tell us how certain 
“diseases” are to be avoided in order to be a perfect master of 
swordsmanship. In what has been cited above, we can readily 
see how closely the training in the art approaches that in Zen. 
Learning of the technique corresponds to an intellectual ap- 
prehension in Zen of its philosophy, and in both Zen and sword- 
play a proficiency in this does not cover the whole ground of the 
discipline. Both require us to come to the attainment of ultimate 
reality, which is the Emptiness or the Absolute. The latter 
transcends all modes of relativity. In swordplay, all the tech- 
nique is to be forgotten and the Unconscious is to be left alone 
to handle the situation, when the technique will assert its won- 
ders automatically or spontaneously. So in Zen conceptualization, 
whatever form it may take is to be thrown out of the mind 
when the Emptiness reveals itself, illumining a world of mul- 
tiplicities. For this reason we assert that the principle of Zen 
discipline pervades all the arts as they are studied in Japan. 
The personal experience of an inner meaning in any art which a 
man may take up is all in all; the technique is not to be 
neglected, of course, but after all it is secondary. Tbe “diseases” 
the philosopher of swordplay enumerates are discernible in any 
branch of art, and their knowledge will also help us greatly in the 
understanding of the Japanese culture generally. 

An idea, however worthy and desirable in itself, becomes a 
disease wben tbe mind is obsessed with it. The diseases or ob- 
sessions the swordsman has to get rid of are: ( 1 ) the desire for 


victory, ( 2 ) the desire to resort to technical cunning, (3) the 
desire to display all that he has learned. ( 4 1 the desire to 
overawe the enemy. (5) the desire to play a passive role, and 
lastly, ( 6 ) the desire to get rid of whatever disease he is likely 
to be infected with. When any one of these obsesses him, he be- 
comes its slave, as it makes him lose all the freedom he is en- 
titled to as a swordsman. 

How are we to be free from all these diseases or obsessions? 
If any kind of desire that is present in the mind — even the 
desire to be free from a desire — interferes with the spontaneous 
activities of an inner harmony, what shall we have to do? The 
desire must be cherished somewhere and somehow, for other- 
wise nothing will be attained: even desirelessness must be 
desired sometime. How can this dilemma be solved? A second 
wedge is needed to get the first one out. but how do we get rid 
of the second one unless a third is inserted? Tliis process will 
have to go on infinitely if we are desirous of driving the last 
one out. So with ‘‘the disease’’ Yagyu wants the swordsman to be 
free from, there will be no time for him to be diseaseless when 
the desire to be free from the disease is also a disease. It is 
again like pursuing one’s shadow; however hard one may run 
after it. he can never succeed as long as his own existence per- 

In Zen we have the same problem. It is desired to be free 
from attachment, but we can never do away with attachment if 
this is desired in any manner. In terms of logic, a desire can be 
expressed in a form of statement, either positive or negative. 
For instance, we can say, ‘T desire this” or “I do not desire 
this.” “To desire” is an attachment, “to desire not to desire” is 
also an attachment. To be unattached then means to be free at 
once from both statements, positive and negative. In other 
words, this is to be simultaneously both “yes” and “no,” which 
is intellectually absurd. The Zen master holds up a stick and 
demands, “I do not call it a stick, and what would you call it?” 



Or he would declare, “I hold a spade and yet I am empty- 
handed, for it is the way I accomplish turning the soil.” Disciples 
of Zen are required to achieve this impossibility. 

Toward the solution of this eternal dilemma, Yagyu quotes 
an old Japanese poem: 

It is mind that deludes Mind, 

For there is no other mind. 

O Mind, do not let yourself 
Be misled by mind}* 

The swordsman-philosopher undertakes to explain what these 
lines mean in connection with the solution of the enigma. He 
first distinguishes two kinds of mind, true or absolute and 
false or relative. The one is the subject of psychological studies, 
while the other is Reality, which constitutes the basis of all 
realities. In the poem quoted, mind is the false one and Mind is 
the true one. The true one is to be protected from the false one 
in order to preserve its purity and freedom unspoiled. But 
somehow a desire arises from the false relative mind and con- 
taminates the true absolute Mind. Therefore, the former is to be 
carefully watched over. But who does this watching? It cannot be 
any other than the false one which is both the spoiler and the 
cleaner. For Mind, the true one, always remains pure and un- 
defiled. This is indeed the strange experience we all have. 
Perhaps it is better to say that this is something inevitable to 
intellectualization, something unavoidable in language, and that, 
constructed as it is, the intellect cannot do any otherwise, for it 
is the very nature of the intellect that it involves itself in the 
contradiction and helplessly bemoans its destiny. As long as we 

Kokoro Jioso 
Kokoro mayowasu 
Kokoro nare; 

Kokoro ni^ 


Kokoro yurusu na. 


have to use language in one way or another, we cannot help 
feeling a certain split taking place within ourselves, which is 

“Why” is a word useful only in a world of relativity where a 
chain of causes and effects has some meaning for human in- 
tellection. When we desire to transcend it the question ceases 
to have sense. A solitary mass of cloud somehow — nobody knows 
how — appears in the blue sky and, immediately spreading, cov- 
ers its entirety, and we are unable to see beyond the veil. But 
somehow, again, we come to cherish a desire to penetrate it, we 
cannot help longing for the blue sky. We are thus again some- 
how urged to think that the clouds and the blue sky must be 
interrelated, though there is apparently no causal connection be- 
tween the two. We are somehow to recognize the presence of the 
clouds along with the blue sky: we see somehow the presence of 
the blue sky in and with the darkness of the clouds. The clouds 
themselves then cease to be clouds — yes, they are there, and yet 
they cease to trouble us as such, as something veiling the blue. 
We then rest content with all things as they are, and feel free, 
emancipated from the bondage unnecessarily put upon us by 
our own ignorance. The “why” loses its meaning, the contradic- 
tion is no more here, and we are happy in the enjoyment of 
freedom and inner harmony under the blue sky, which is to all 
our knowledge the storehouse of infinite possibilities, that is, the 
source of creativity. The blue sky, it goes without saying, is here 
metaphysically used for the Mind. 

The old question, however, still remains: How do we get to 
the blue sky? Is there any “definable” way to approach it? We 
have used the term “somehow” throughout the preceding state- 
ments, but we all know that this is far from giving satisfaction 
to our intellect. But what we have to remember here is that the 
intellect cannot supersede itself. It is the intellect that raises 
the question, but it is not the intellect that answers it. It is life 
itself that solves all the questions, that is to say, it is prajnd- 
intuition which sees directly into life. All the communication. 



therefore, that comes from this source can never be “definitely” 
described. So it is with Yagyu Tajima no kami in his treatise. As 
far as the novices, who are always intellectually possessed, are 
concerned, what he says is altogether unintelligible. He simply 
says that one has to go on disciplining oneself when one wishes 
to see the diseases disappear, and that when enough discipline 
is “accumulated” they will be removed by themselves without 
one’s being conscious of it. Zen in this case generally uses the 
term ku fu ( kung-fu in Chinese 1 which is synonymous with 
“discipline” or “training” ishugyo; hsiu-hsing). Kuju, as de- 
fined before, means “employing oneself assiduously to discover 
the way to the objective.” One may say. this is literally groping 
in the dark, there is nothing definite indicated, we are entirely 
lost in the maze. I am afraid, however, that this is as far as any 
master of Zen or swordsmanship can go with his disciples. He 
leads them until no more leading is possible, and the rest is 
left to their own devices. If it is a matter of intellection, the 
way to the goal may be “definitely” prescribed. But in things 
concerning one’s personal experience, all that the master can 
do is to make the disciples realize that they are now at last in 
the dark or in the labyrinth and that they must resort to some- 
thing very much deeper than mere intellection — something 
which they cannot obtain from another. The way to the objective, 
if there is such a thing in this training, is no other than the 
object which they thought was somewhere else than “the way” 
itself. The “seeking” or desiring is of course a preliminary step, 
but this step does not lead anywhere outside but within the 
seeker or desirer himself. The seeking and the seeker, the 
desire and the desirer, are identical. Thus naturally, there can- 
not be any intellectual guiding post. When the way and the 
wayfarer are one, what can the outsider do for him? An in- 
tellectual or logical pointer can never be more than a pointer or 
an onlooker. Personal experience and Pra/'na-intuition are the 
same thing. 

My Studies in Zen, pp. 85 £E. 


Yagyu Tajima no kami sometimes calls the Mind the “Sword 
of Mystery,” Shimmyd-ken. Being a swordsman, he inevitably 
emphasizes the activity aspect of the sword instead of its 
substantiality. That is to say, he wants to see the sword moving 
functionally, ^hen the sword is held in his hands, it is at an 
undifferentiated center of a circle that has no circumference. It 
is ready either to assert itself or to negate itself. The negating 
is nonbeing and the asserting is being. The sword can be 
either, according to the situation it meets. Ordinary people are 
always one-sided. When they see a negation fnonbeing), they 
fail to see an assertion ( being ) ; when they see an assertion, 
they fail to see a negation. But the expert swordsman sees both 
negation and assertion at the same time. He perceives that a 
negation is not just the negation but implies an affirmation. So 
with the affirmation. This is the Mystery. 

Yagyu the philosopher now turns to Lao-tzu and gives his 
interpretation: “T^diere what is eternal is in the state of non- 
being we may see the mystery [of being]; where what is eternal 
is in the state of being we may see the limits [of nonbeing].” 
By this, says Yagyu, Lao-tzu wants to make us see into the 
interfusion of being and nonbeing. Being does not remain as 
such, nor does nonbeing. They are always ready to change from 
one state to the other. This is the “fluidity” of things, and the 
swordsman must always be on the alert to meet this inter- 
changeability of the opposites. But as soon as his mind “stops” 
with either of them, it loses its own fluidity. The swordsman, 
therefore, is warned to keep his mind always in the state of 
emptiness so that his freedom in action will never be obstructed. 
Fluidity and emptiness are convertible terms. 

"Fluidity" is an important idea in Oriental thought structure. Eno ( Hui- 
nPng) . the sixth patriarch of Chinese Zen, states that Tao is to flow unob- 
btructedly, and the suordsinan urges Us to keep the mind from "stopping” at 
one point, to have it in a state of constant mobility, so that the sword loses 
no time in hitting the opponent as soon as he betrays the least sign of re- 
laxation (siiki). This is a tomaranu kokoro ("nonstopping mind”), that is, 
"fluidity.” In Kegon philosophy- it is known as "Reality in its aspect of jiji 
muge’ (cf. my The Essence of Buddhism, pp. 48 ff.). The jiji muge may 


When there is no obstruction of whatever kind, the swords- 
man’s movements are like flashes of lightning or like the mirror 
reflecting images. There is not a hairbreadth interval between 
one movement and another. When in his mind there is any 
shadow of doubt, any sense of fear or insecurity, this indecisive- 
ness at once reveals itself in his sword’s movements, which 
means a defeat on his part. When the Sword of Mystery is off 
its original “seat,” no myd (miao) can ever be expected to 
manifest itself. 

This sword stands as symbol of the invisible spirit keeping 
the mind, body, and limbs in full activity. But we can never 
locate it in any part of the body. It is like the spirit of a tree. 
If it had no spirit, there would be no splitting buds, no bloom- 
ing flowers. Or it is like the spirit or energy [ki, cJii) of 
heaven and earth. If there were no spirit, there would be no 
thunder, no lightning, no showers, no sweeping winds. But as to 
its whereabouts we can never tell. The spirit is no doubt the 
controlling agent of our existence, though altogether beyond the 
realm of corporeality. The Sword of Mystery must be made to 
occupy this invisible “seat” of spirit and control every movement 
in whatever external situation it may happen to find itself. It 
is thus to be extremely mobile, no “stopping” in any place at any 
moment. As soon as the moon is revealed from behind the 
clouds, it loses no time in casting its shadow wherever there 
is a body of water, no matter how large or how scanty it may 
be. An immense distance between heaven and earth is no 
hindrance to the moonlight to traverse. The swordsman’s spirit 
must be like this. He may find it very difficult to act like this 
in every intricate situation he may encounter in life. Except for 
the Zen master who has gone through every stage of training 
and finds himself free from every psychic hindrance or attach- 
ment, it is no easy task to mix oneself in all social situations 
and human complexities and not get caught in them in one way 

be interpreted as the metaphysical counterpart of the psychological tomaranu 


or another. However this may be, it is up to the swordsman 
to preserve this state of spiritual freedom and nonattachment as 
soon as he stands up holding the sword in his hands. He may 
not be able to extend this experience in swordsmanship to any 
other branches of art, but within the limits of his special field 
he must be master of himself. Those who can apply experience 
attained in one field to another with perfect readiness are 
called men of “all-around fluidity.” Such are rare; most of us 
are specialized. In all events, what is most important is to grasp 
the original mind of truth and integrity that knows no false- 
hood, and the rest will follow by itself. 

From these lengthy paraphrastic statements of Yagyu’s philos- 
ophy of the sword, we can see how much of Zen metaphysics 
has entered into the body of swordsmanship. People of the 
West, particularly, may wonder how Zen came to be so in- 
timately related to the art of killing. Inasmuch as Zen is a form 
of Buddhism and Buddhism is professedly a religion of com- 
passion. how can Zen endorse the profession of the swordsman? 
This is the criticism we frequently hear from the Western 
readers of my books. But I hope they have now come to under- 
stand what lies underneath swordsmanship and how this is 
related to the training of Zen. For, as most students of Oriental 
culture may understand by this time, whatever field of art the 
Japanese may study they always emphasize the importance of 
the “subjective” side of it, giving to its technique a secondary, 
almost a negligible, consideration. While art is art and has its 
own significance, the Japanese make use of it by turning it 
into an opportunity for their spiritual enhancement. And this 
consists in advancing toward the realization of Tao, or Heavenly 
Reason of the universe, or Heavenly Nature in man, or the 
emptiness or suchness of things. Thus the sword is no longer 
the weapon to kill indiscriminately, but it is one of the avenues 


through which life opens up its secrets to us. Hence Yagyu 
Tajima no kami and other masters of the profession are in fact 
great teachers of life. 


FOR A further elucidation of Yagyu’s position in regard to the 
relation between Zen and swordsmanship, I will give here 
a resume of his philosophy, to which Takuan’s tract on the 
“Sword of Taia” is added. Takuan, as we have already seen, 
helped his swordsman-disciple to understand the significance of 
Zen in opening up the deepest recesses of the human soul. 
Though I do not think he was a swordsman himself, he had pro- 
found knowledge of its principle, and there is no douht that 
Yagyu was in this respect a great pupil of the master. 

There are five key points, as I see it, in Yagyu’s philosophy, 
which when understood will acquaint us with the secrets of his 

(1) The first Yagyu calls Shuji-shuri-ken. “Ken’’ means the 
sword, but the rest is cryptic, and he purposely refuses to dis- 
close it. This forms the center of his art. Although it is im- 
possible, as far as his verbalism is concerned, to find out what 
kind of sword, symbolically or literally, the Shuji-shuri-ken is, 
can it be identified with Takuan’s “Sword of Taia”? 

Yagyu seems to be speaking psychologically when he makes 
his sword see what is not visible as well as what is visible — 
and this simultaneously. For the visible is the invisible and 
conversely. In terms of logic, “A” is “not-A” and "not-A’’ is 
“A.” The sword is, as it were, held at the identification point of 
opposites. It is never one-sided, it never stands immobile, it is 
becoming itself. The first requisite for the swordsman is to dis- 

A full translation of Takuan’s “The Sword of Taia” is appended to this 
section, below. 


cover this sword within himself. One may be the master of ever 
so many technical tactics, but if he lacks the eye to see the 
sword they are of no avail whatever. 

(2) The second topic is concerned with the “hase” or “seat” 
which the swordsman is to occupy. It is entitled “the moon and 
water.” It is taken from one of the Buddhist similes that are 
used to illustrate the quickness or immediacy with which the 
mind perceives an object appearing before it. When the moon 
reveals itself behind a mass of clouds, as they are dispersed, 
it is reflected immediately on the water. It is the same with 
the mirror that reflects the flower as soon as the latter presents 
itself before it. So with the swordsman’s position or base when 
he stands before his opponent, it must be such that he can readily 
invade the latter’s field at his own pleasure and with the im- 
mediacy of the moon reflecting itself on the water. 

( The present writer, not being himself a swordsman, finds it 
difficult to determine here exactly what Yagyu means. When he 
refers to a “base,” does he mean a physical one or a spiritual 
one? ) 

(dl “The Sword of Mystery” ( Shimmy o-hen) is next. The 
sword here is not just a physical one. but 1 do not know how 
definitely to distinguish it from the first secret sword which 
Yagyu refuses to clarify. He writes: “The divine [or the Un- 
conscious] is within and the mysteries manifest themselves out- 
wardly.” That is to say, when the divine occupies the seat of 
the Sword of Mystery, the body and limbs are ready to exhibit 
all the “fioweriness” that belongs to the Unthinkable. From this 
statement it is evident that this sword, like Takuan’s Sword of 
Taia, is not at all material. It is the Unconscious which works 
behind the field of consciousness. Ordinarily it is the conscious- 
ness that creates all sorts of inhibitions and obstructs the free 
movements of the man. Because of ideologically or emotionally 
created inhibitions, he fails to see or detect the movements of 
the enemy’s sword with the immediacy of the moon casting its 
reflection on the water. The seeing is the all-important factor in 


the art of swordsmanship. When this is done, the acting of the 
body and limbs instantly follows. The Unconscious, therefore, 
must be brought out and made to occupy the entire field of 
mentation, so that what is primarily there as a force of instinc- 
tual irresistibility makes free use of the consciously accumulated 
knowledge. This is the wielding of Yagyu’s Sword of Mystery. 

By thus applying the modern psychology of the Unconscious 
to the art of swordplay we may be able to interpret not only 
Yagyu’s methodology but also that of other schools, for in- 
stance, the school of Mujushin-ken (“Sword of No-abiding 
Mind”), which will follow in the next section. 

But how should we understand the secret “Sword of Shuji- 
shuri” in relation to this “Sword of Mystery”? Perhaps the 
secret sword belongs in the spiritual or metaphysical domain 
which must be postulated as lying beyond the psychological un- 

(4) To get rid of the diseases or obsessions is the fourth 
item of concern with Yagyu the philosopher. But as this was 
treated in the earlier part of the present section, let us be 
satisfied with the following remark: According to Yagyu, to be 
rid of the diseases is to see the Shuri-ken, “the Secret Sword.” 
As long as we are obsessed with certain preconceived ideas, they 
are sure to hinder our seeing “the master of the house,” and 
when he is not seen, all our doings are disintegrated. When 
this takes place in front of the enemy ready at any moment to 
strike you down, it is the most dangerous thing that could ever 
happen to the swordsman. The mind chock-full of ideas, there- 
fore, is to be thrown aside, it is to be thoroughly cleared of all 
obstructing thoughts and feelings, it must be in the state of 
perfect “emptiness.” M'hen this is realized, the Shiiji-shuri-ken 
will be an absolute commander, and may have everything ac- 
cording to his free will. The Unconscious dormant at the root of 
all existence is awakened, it now directs instinctually all the 
movements not only of the conscious mind but of the physical 
body. The movements, being instinctual, are as immediate and 


instantaneous as the moon, which is infinitely far away from us, 
yet loses no time as soon as the clouds are dispersed to impress 
its reflection on the water. 

( 5 ) Finally, the body and limbs. The seeing may be done 
with the mind, but the acting needs more substantiality, and 
seeing and acting must be one, must take place simultaneously. 
In the case of the perfect swordsman, this becomes possible be- 
cause he has realized that all movements come out of emptiness 
and that the mind is the name given to this dynamic aspect of 
emptiness, and further that here is no crookedness, no ego- 
centered motivation, as the emptiness is sincerity, genuineness, 
and straightforwardness allowing nothing between itself and its 
movements. It is veni, vidi, vici. As soon as there appears a 
speek of cloud tinged with egotistic deviousness, the moonlight 
of emptiness is befouled and the swordsman is doomed to defeat, 
for the mind and body will no more obey the dictates of an 
absentee master. 

These five key points. I hope, afford us some material for un- 
derstanding the inner relation between Zen and swordsmanship. 
What is noteworthy here is that, while the Buddhist theory of 
emptiness seems such an abstract and negativistic idea, as some 
critics would interpret it, it enters deeply and inextricably into 
the fabric of swordplay, which is after all not child’s play but 
the most dangerous business of life and death. When a stroke 
is missed all is lost eternally, no idle thinking could enter here. 
The philosophy of emptiness is in a most decided way and 
most intimately connected with swordsmanship. Here are a few 
short quotations from Yagyu’s triple treatise on the sword: 

The mind unmoved is emptiness; when moved it works the 


Emptiness is one-mind-ness, one-mind-ness is no-mind-ness. 
and it is no-mind-ness that achieves wonders. 

There are free uninhibited activities besides merely mastering 
the technique, which constitute the marvels of the ki ( ch’i in 
Chinese ) 

Give up thinking as though not giving it up. Observe the tech- 
nique as though not observing. 

Have nothing left in your mind, keep it thoroughly cleansed 
of its contents, and then the mirror will reflect the images in 
their isness. 

See first with the mind, then with the eyes, and finally with 
the body and limbs. 

Don’t be afraid of blinking when the eye unexpectedly con- 
fronts an object. It is a natural thing. 

I am moving all day and not moving at all. I am like the 
moon underneath the waves that ever go on rolling and rocking. 

Let yourself go with the disease, be with it, keep company 
with it: this is the way to get rid of it. 

You are said to have mastered the art when the technique 
works through your body and limbs as if independent of your 
conscious mind. 

Turn yourself into a doll made of wood: it has no ego, it 
thinks nothing; and let the body and limbs work themselves out 
in accordance with the discipline they have undergone. This is 
the way to win. 

This corresponds to the modern conception of the “cosmic imconsciou'^,’’ 
which may be taken as reflecting something of the dlayavijndna iarayashiki 
in Japanese) after it has been transformed into adarsana jndna, “mirror 
wisdom” {daienkydchi in Japanese). 

This simile may be misconstrued by some readers who have ne\er thought 
of transforming themselves into dolls of wood or clay or of any material. 
The idea is that our consciousness, which is generally too filled with thoughts 
and feelings and the like, stands in the way of successfully carrying out the 
momentous business of life and death, and that the best w'ay to cope with 
the situation is to clear the field of all useless rubbish and to turn the con- 
sciousness into an automaton in the hands of the unconscious. See also 
Chuang-tzu, in Appendix V, sec. 3. 


1 66 


T A K U A N ’ S short treatise on “the Sword of Taia,” ““ here trans- 
lated in full, will help us understand what may he called the 
“metaphysics of the sword” of Yagyu Tajima no kami. 


THE ART of the sword, as I see it, consists in not vying for 
victory, not testing strength, not moving one step forward or 
backward; it consists in your not seeing me and my not seeing 
you.'^ \^'hen one penetrates as far as where heaven and earth 
have not yet been separated, wdiere the yin and the yang have 
not yet differentiated themselves, one is then said to have at- 
tained proficiency [in the art]. 

A man who has thoroughly mastered the art does not use the 
sword, and the opponent kills himself; when a man uses the 
sword, he makes it serve to give life to others. When killing 
is the order, it kills; when giving life is the order, it gives 
life. While killing there is no thought of killing, while giving 
life there is no thought of giving life; for in the killing or in the 
giving life, no Self is asserted. The man does not see “this” or 
“that” and yet sees well what is “this” or “that”; he makes no 
discrimination and yet knows well what is what. He w'alks on 

-‘’The Taia is one of the three swords wrought by Fukoshi (Feng Hu-tzu) 
by the order of the king of Ch’u in ancient China. It is noted for its fine 
qualities and is synonymous with the idt'alized «5word as such. 

‘‘You” and ‘T’’ not ‘•ecing each other, according to the commentator, 
means that so long as one stands in the realm of Reality one sees no oppo- 
sites of any kind, because there is yet no differentiation of heaven and earth, 
of the yin (female) and the yang (male). Takuan’s idea is that the com- 
batant i^ not to cherish any thought of seif and no-self, for when this 
thought is present in his mind, his moves invite opposition and obstruction 
everywhere and the combat will surely end in his own ruination. 

ZEN AND S W ORDS M ANS H I P / 1 1 167 

water as if it were the earth; he walks on the earth as if it 
were water. One who has attained this freedom cannot be 
interfered with by anybody on earth. He stands absolutely by 

Do you wish to get “this”? 

While walking or resting, sitting or lying, while talking or 
remaining quiet, while eating rice or drinking tea, do not allow 
yourself to be indolent, but be most arduous in search of "this.” 
As months and years pass by, it will be like seeing a light 
in the dark when you come without knowing how upon the 
knowledge, which is not transmissible from the teacher, and dis- 
cover the source of mysteries where action or non-action arises. 
When this is attained you will realize a state transcending the 
relativity of things as we have it in our everyday life and yet 
not going out of it. This I call the Sword of Taia. 

This sharp Sword of Taia, possessed by every one of us. is 
perfect in itself. When it is brightened even the deins (celestial 
beings) are afraid of it, but when it is unpolished, tlie evil 
ones will play tricks on you. When a superior hand meets an- 
other and their swords are crossed, neither side will claim vic- 
tory. So it is when the World-honored One raises a bunch of 
flowers and Mahakasyapa smiles. To know the other three 
corners of a vessel when only one corner is lifted, or to detect 
a minute difference in weight by merely looking at a piece of gold 
or silver — these are no more than ordinary examples of in- 
telligence. As regards one who has attained perfection in the 
art, he will cut you into three even before you have referred 
to one or cleared up three; " much more so when you stand 
face to face before him! 

““ The reference to ’‘one" or “three” has no special meaning as far as the 
numbers are concerned. It is an allusion to the quickness with which the 
Zen master or sword'-man detects the slightest movement made on the part 
of one who stands before him, whether a monk or another swordsman. The 
master makes the announcement: “If you utter a word, thirty blows of my 
stick for you. If you utter no words, just the same — thirty blows of my stick. 
Speak, speak!” A monk comes forward, and when he is about to bow before 



Such a one will never expose his hlade. He uses it as quickly 
as a flash of lightning, as the passing of a gale. Those, however, 
who have no such training are sure to get attached somewhere 
and to lose freedom of movement. They will not only injure 
the blade but will also hurt themselves. They are far from being 
called skilled. Do not entertain delusive thoughts, do not make 
vain calculations. “This” is beyond verbalizing, nor is there any 
stylization wherein you can be trained. It is something you have 
to experience by yourself outside the doctrinal teaching. 

When “this” is realized, it moves with utmost freedom, dis- 
regarding all usage and conventionalism. Sometimes it asserts 
itself, sometimes it negates itself, and even the devas are at a 
loss what to make of it. What is the meaning of all this? 
Says one ancient wise man; “'When you have no picture of the 
hakutaku ' in your house, you then have no fear of the evil 
ones.” When you come to this wisdom after much self-disciplin- 
ing, the lifting of the single sword will keep the whole world in 
peace. No frivolities about it! 

[End of Takuan’s Treatise \ 


ALMOST contemporaneous, I think, with Yagyu Tajima no 
kami Munenori was another swordsman in Yedo (now Tokyo), 

the master, he is struck. The monk protests. "I have not even uttered a 
word. Why this striking?” Retorts the master, "If I wait for your speech, it 
is too late.” 

^ The hakutaku ipai-tse in Chinese) is a mythieal creature whose body 
resembles a hand and whose head is human. It was anciently believed that 
the creature ate our bad dreams and evil experiences, and for this reason 
people, wishing it to eat up all the ills which we are likely to suffer, used 
to hang its picture on the entrance gate or inside the house. What 
Takuan means here is that the hakutaku for all we know may eat up every- 
thing bad in human life, but at the same time it is most likely that we ac- 
tually invite bad things because of the presence of the mythical creature in 
the home. It is best not to have anything around that is connected with 
evils, for the very thought of them leads us to evils. “Even good things are 
better not to happen.” Good and bad are complementary, and when we in- 
vite one the other is sure to follow. 

3. Mu-ch’i (Mokkei). A wagtail on a withered 
lotus leaf. Late 13th century 

5. Ascribed to Ma Yuan (Bayen). A solitary angler. Late 12th century 

8. Arrangement of flagstones at one of the garden corners in the Katsura Palace 
grounds, Kyoto 


11. Fugen (Samantabhadra) Bosatsu 
15th century 

12. Liang K’ai (Ryokai). Sakya (Shaka) leaving his 
mountain retreat. Early 13th century ’ 

16. Liang K'ai (Ryokaij. A dru: 

20. Shuai-weng (Sotsu-6). Hui-neng 
(Eno) listening to the Diamond 
Sutra. 13th-14th century 


i - 

-0 - 



. W~M 


- - -'i 





-3f »t' 

?s, K 

'*1 X, 

f It '*h 

. p -T> 

X "f 

- ^ I is 

ff ^ 

J 1^1 




# ff 

: >^ T- 












‘‘? i 









21. Calligraphy of Hsii-t’ang Chih-yii (Kicio Chigu). Early 13th century 

23. Calligraphy of Daito Kokushi. “Kanzan,” title which he gave to his disciple 
Early 14th century 

32. Sesshu. Landscape, autumn. Late 15th century 


^ ^ 4 ^ 

^ (V 

36b. Calligraphy of Bukko Kokushi. Late 13th century 

37b. Calligraphy of Takuan. Late 16th ceniery 


40. Hakuin’s portrait, by one of his disciples, with an inscription by 
Hakuin. Early 18th century 

41. Miyamoto Musashi (Niten). Bodhidharma (Daruma) 
Early ITth century , 

43. Sengai. A traveling monk with a 
kyoku (“crazy poem”) 

Late 18th century 



44. INIiyamoto Musashi (ISiten). A shrike on a dead 
branch. Early 17th century 

t fi- - 

50. Basho, Bamboos and a haiku. Late 17th century 


52. Yosa Buson. Panels of the screen illustrating Basho’s Oku no Hosomichi. 1779 

56. Artist unknown. Daito Kokushi. 1334 


57. Bokusai. Ikkyu the Zen master (1394-1481). Late 15th century 

58. Sengai. The three laughing sages at Kokei, with a thirty-one-syllable poem 
Late 18th century 


59. Artist unknown. Toyot-'inii Hiasvoshi (1536-98). 
with inscription by Hideyoshi's son Hideyori 
Larly 17th century 

60. Hakuin. The three sages tasting vinegar. Early 18th century 

62. Calligraphy of Ryokwan. “Shin-gachi-rin” (Mind-moon-circle) 
18th or early 19th century 

63. Sengai. A contented man in the sum- 
mer evening with a haiku 
Late 18th century 

^ 'rr'^ - ' wim ■ 

64. Ascribed to Wu Tao-tzu (Godoshi). Kwannon 
Early 8th century 


living on the other side of the River Sumida, who was known 
as Odagiri Ichiun. Whereas Tajima no kami was connected 
with the Tokugawa family, then at the height of its power, and 
was therefore enjoying power and wealth and a great reputation 
as teacher to the third Shogun lyemitsu, Ichiun remained almost 
unknown except among his intimate friends and disciples. Their 
social positions stood in great contrast. Judging from his writings, 
however, Ichiun was probably a much better swordsman as far 
as his personality was concerned. He despised all those profes- 
sional masters who gathered around men of political influence 
and worldly renown, for they were what his teacher Sekiun char- 
acterized as “the beastly-minded.” because their life objective 
was for “name and gain” at the sacrifice of their profession. 

What Ichiun and Yagyu had in common was their philosophy 
of swordsmanship, which was basically that of Zen Buddhism. 
In one sense, Ichiun was inclined to emphasize Zen more than 
studying the technique of the sword, which followed by itself 
when one understood what Zen was. Yagyu, on the other hand, 
seemed to pay some attention to the technique. It goes without 
saying that he also stressed the importance of Zen in the mastery 
of the art. Apparently, however, he did not go so far as Ichiun. 
who altogether ignored tactical skill as such. Ichiun openly de- 
clared that his was the sword of “non-action,” of “no art,” of 
“no technique.” of “relying on nothing,” with “no rhythmicality.” 
lacking anything resembling what might be designated swords- 
manship. Therefore, he remarked that if anyone witnessed his 
method of practical training, he would pronounce it “very 
strange, very extraordinary.” Lastly, Ichiun characterized his 
sword as consisting not in ai-uchi but in ai-nuke.'* 

The following is an abstract, much shortened, of an eighteenth- 
century manuscript copy of the original writing prepared by 

-* Ai-nuke is a very important term in the philosophy of swordsmanship as 
expounded by Ichiun. It stands against ai-uchi, which is mutual killing, 
whereas ai-nuke is mutual escaping. For a little more explanation, see below, 
p. 172. 


Odagiri Ichiun. disciple of Hariya Sekiun, who is claimed to 
have been the founder of the school called “The Sword of No- 
abiding Mind’’ (Mujushm-ken) . The manuscript starts with 
an account of the school, quoting the master and Ichiun’s rela- 
tion to him. It is of much significance in the history of swordplay 
lor demonstrating the all-importance of what might be called 
spiritual training instead of merely learning the art as art, and 
for showing the position of a perfect personality on technical 
mastery and its crafty handling. Swordsmanship is, after all, 
not the art of killing; it consists in disciplining oneself as a 
moral and spiritual and philosophical being. 

‘the sword of no-abiding mind’ 


MY TEACHER, Sekiun, began his study of swordsmanship 
when he was about thirteen years of age, and later became a 
disciple of Ogasawara Genshin. Genshin was one of the four 
most prominent disciples of Kami-idzumi Ise no kami Hidetsuna 
(d. 1577), who was the founder of a new school known as 
Shinkage-ryu. Japanese swordsmanship may be said to have 
made a new development under Kami-idzumi. He was a great 
creative genius in the Japanese history of the sword. Ogasawara 
Genshin, after mastering Shinkage-ryu, went to China. While 
teaching the Chinese people the art, he happened to meet 
an expert in the use of a certain Chinese weapon known as 
the hoko. By studying under him, he improved his own tech- 
nique to an extraordinary degree. On his return to Japan, he 
tried the new method out on his old friends and found that none 
of tliem could stand his offensive. Believing in the absolute 
superiority of his discovery, he taught it to a large number of 
pupils. After hard study, Sekiun finally succeeded in mastering 
all the secrets of the new school. 


My teacher, however, did not feel fully satisfied with his ac- 
complishment. He began to study Zen under a retired abbot of 
Tdfukuji, one of the chief monasteries in Kyoto. Under Kohaku, 
which was his name, my teacher made great advance in the 
understanding of Zen Buddhism. He ultimately came to this con- 
clusion: none of the great professors of swordsmanship so far 
as he knew, including his own teacher Genshin and Genshin’s 
teacher Kami-idzumi, could be called real masters of the art. 
For they utterly failed in understanding the fundamental principle 
of life; without it, however advanced their mastery of the 
technique, they were all slaves of delusive thoughts, worth ab- 
solutely nothing. They could not go beyond these three alterna- 
tives: (i) to defeat the inferior enemy; (2) to be defeated by 
the superior one; and (3) with an equal, to end in mutual 
striking-down or killing (ai-uchi). 

Sekiun now employed himself in learning how to perfect the 
art of swordsmanship along the line of Heavenly Reason or 
Primary Nature in the state of as-it-is-ness. He was convinced 
that such a principle was applicable to the art. One day he 
had a great awakening. He discovered that there was no need in 
swordplay to resort to the so-called technicality. T'l hen a man is 
enthroned in the seat of Heavenly Reason, he feels as if he were 
absolutely free and independent, and from this position he can 
cope most readily with all sorts of professional trickery. When 
Sekiun, my teacher, tried his discovery with his teacher 
Ogasawara Genshin, Sekiun easily defeated Genshin even though 
Genshin exhausted all his secret arts. It was like burning 
bamboos in the flames of an angry fire. 

Sekiun was then already past sixty when I, Ichiun, twenty- 
eight years old, came to him as pupil. During the five years of 
tutorship under Sekiun, I applied myself most earnestly and 
assiduously to the art of swordsmanship, which was now taught 
by the old master in the form newly synthesized with the principle 
and practice of Zen. When I thought I was finally ready to try 
my attainment with the master, I challenged him, and at each 



of the three contests vve were engaged in, the outcome was what 
was called “ai-nuke.” 

[Ai-nuke is a new term in swordplay. When the contestants 
are of equal caliber and proficiency the game as it is generally 
played finishes with an ai-uchi, which, when it is carried on with 
real steel, means killing each other. An ai-nuke, however, does 
not at all involve any kind of killing or hurting each other, as 
nuke means, not “striking down” as uchi does, but “passing 
by,” or “going through” unhurt. When, therefore, Ichiun had his 
tests with Sekiun, his teacher, neither of them was at all hurt 
though they were of equal attainment. There was no “striking 
down” on either side. Each “escaped” without being defeated in 
any sense of the word. Ichiun writes; “This was the feature 
most characteristic of our school, which was designated by 
Sekiun’s Zen teacher, Kohaku, as the ‘Sword of No-abiding 
Mind.’ ” Ichiun continues:] 

Soon after this my teacher passed away, and I was left to 
myself. For the six following years I was in retirement, quietly 
contemplating Heavenly Reason, and I had no idea of propa- 
gating my newly acquired art. Instead, I devoted myself to a life 
of introspection so that I forgot even to feel hunger and cold. 

One significant fact I have to mention in connection with my 
contests with the master is that, after the third test, the master 
gave me a scroll containing words of testimony in which he 
fully recognized his disciple’s realization of the principle of 
swordsmanship. The master then took out a rosary from his 

-■’ “No-abcicle” or “no-abiding” is a Buddhist term, apratisthd in Sanskrit. It 
equates with “emptiness" isunyatut and sometimes with “non-attachment” 
{.nnabhinivesa) . It literally means “not to have any home where one may 
settle down”; its real meaning is “to settle down where there is no settling 
down.” This is a kind of paradox as far as our ordinary sense of logic is 
concerned. But the Buddhi-ts w'ould tell us that life is more than logic 
and that logic ought to conform to life in order to be logical and not life to 
logic just for the sake of logic. When this — which the philosopher would 
designate as "absurdity” — is actually comprehended as we live our daily life, 
we are said to have realized the “abiding where there is no abiding.” The 
swordsman is also asked to attain this in his art. 



chest pocket, and, burning incense, turned toward me and 
bowed in the way the Buddhists generally do toward their object 
of reverence. 

I really did not know what the master meant by this religious 
act. There is no doubt, however, that the master thereby paid to 
his young pupil the highest compliment one mortal could ever 
give to another. 

Though I had no thought of advertising myself as teacher of 
the new school, some of my old friends found me out and urged 
me to initiate them into the new experiences. My name and 
school thus gradually came to be known among wider circles. 
Judging from the way they now follow the teaching and discipline 
of the school, it is likely that the sehool will go on prospering 
for some generations to come, and my late teacher’s wonderful 
attainments in his late years will not be lost to the world. But 
it is advisable to put these things dowm in writing lest men of 
posterity understand the teaching each in his own way. They 
must be protected against any possible misinterpretation. . . . 

After thus introducing himself and his teacher. Ichiun mentions 
the thing of first importance for the swordsman’s personality. 
He is to give up all desire for name and gain, all egotism and 
self-glorification, he is to be in accord with Heavenly Reason and 
observe the Law of Nature as it is reflected in every one of us. 
In Ichiun’s words: ‘‘My teacher despised people of the worldly 
type, saying that they are defiled with the beastlike spirit, be- 
cause like the lower animals they are always bent on finding 
something to eat — that is, always looking for the material welfare 
of their own selves. They do not know what is meant by human 
dignity and laws of morality which regulate our human life.” 

As to swordsmanship, Ichiun declares that the first principle 
of the art is not to rely on tricks of technique. Most swordsmen 

What follows is the author's interpretation of Ichiun's- ideas, interpolated 
frequently with lehiun's own words. 



make too much of technique, sometimes making it their chief 
concern to sanctify their acquirements. Therefore, if one wishes 
to follow the teaching of the “Sword of No-abode,” the first thing 
required is to discard any desire to turn swordsmanship into 
a kind of entertainment, a matter of mere accomplishment. 
Further, one is not to think of achieving a victory over the 
opponent. Let the swordsman disregard from the first what may 
come out of the engagement, let him keep his mind clear of 
such thoughts. For the first principle of swordsmanship is a 
thorough insight into Fleavenly Reason, which works out ac- 
cording to the chance circumstances; the rest is of no concern 
to the swordsman himself. 

When Fleavenly Reason is present in us it knows how to be- 
have on every occasion: when a man sees fire, his Reason knows 
at once how to use it; when he finds water, it tells him at once 
what it is good for; when he meets a friend, it makes him 
greet him; when he sees a person in a dangerous position, it 
makes him go right out to his rescue. As long as we are one 
with it, we never err in our proper behavior however variable 
the situation may be. 

It exists even before we are born, it is the principle that 
regulates the universe morally as well as physically. That prin- 
ciple, which is creative, is divided into four aspects: gen [yilan, 
the “sublime”), Ad {heng, “success”), ri {li, “furthering”), and 
tei (chen, “perseverance”)."' When man is born by virtue of 
the Creative Principle, he partakes of these four aspects in the 
form of the four cardinal social virtues: jin [jen, “love”), 
gi (i, “justice”), rei {li, “propriety”), and chi [chih, “wis- 
dom”). These four virtues constitute human nature, whereby 
man distinguishes himself as spiritual leader from the rest of 

The Primary Nature functions in its purest form in our 

Tlu'ip Engli-li terms are talcen from tlie Englisti translation by Cary F. 
Baynes of Richard Wilhelm’s German version of the I Ching, or Book of 
Changes, one of the five Chinese classics. 



infancy, when we are held in our mother’s arms and fed from 
her breasts. As the baby is sufficient unto itself with the Nature, 
so even as adults we must be sufficient unto ourselves when the 
Nature is permitted to work in its own way with no interference 
from the side of relative consciousness. Unfortunately, as soon 
as we begin to grow up we are indoctrinated by every means ac- 
cessible to us. Because of conceptualization, our sense-experi- 
ences inform us with an incorrect picture of the world. When 
we see a mountain, we do not see it in its suchness, but we 
attach to it all kinds of ideas, sometimes purely intellectual, but 
frequently charged with emotionality. When these envelop the 
mountain, it is transformed into something monstrous. This is 
due to our own indoctrination out of our “scholarly” learning 
and our vested interests, whether individual, political, social, 
economic, or religious. The picture thus formed is a hideous 
one, crooked and twisted in every possible way. Instead of living 
in a world presented to the Primary Nature in its nakedness, 
we live in an artificial, “cultured” one. The pity is that we are 
not conscious of the fact. 

If the swordsman wants to know how tliis contorted world 
picture affects his acts, let him observe himself when he is en- 
gaged in the contest. He will find that all his actions are against 
the principle of the “Sword of No-abode” which from start to 
finish is to be in accord with the thinking and acting of the 
infant. According to this discipline in conformity with the Nature, 
the steps the swordsman may take when confronting the enemy 
will be neither quick nor slow nor indifferent. They are simply 
left to the Primary Nature as it sees fit in terms of the situation, 
which is subject to change from moment to moment. The swords- 
man is not to make a show of untoward bravery, nor is he to 
feel timid. He will also hardly be conscious of the presence of an 
enemy, or in fact of himself as confronting somebody. He will 
act as if he were conducting his everyday business — for instance, 
enjoying breakfast. Let the swordsman handle his sword as if he 
were handling his chopsticks, picking up a piece of food and 


putting it into the mouth and setting them down when the meal 
is finished. The handling of the sword does not require any 
more of his concern than sitting at the breakfast table. If he 
wants to do more than this, he is not a graduate of the school. 

Ichiun continues: In order to explain the mysterious work- 
ing of Heavenly Reason or of the Primary Nature in man, we 
make use of various expressions, but the main thing is to return 
to the innocence of the original man, that is. of infancy, which 
is often called Great Limit (taikyoku; fai-chi in Chinese), or 
Nature in its isness, or a state of no-action or emptiness. But 
most people, instead of looking directly into the fact, cling to 
words and their commentaries and go on entangling themselves 
further and further, finally putting themselves into an inextricable 

Let such people for once go back to their own infancy and see 
how the infant behaves. The great earth may crack, and he re- 
mains unconcerned. A murderer may break into the house and 
threaten to kill him, but he smiles at him. Does this not show 
great courage? Now let us see how he behaves toward worldly 
gain, for which we are almost ready to sacrifice our lives or 
shamelessly to employ our most demoniac cunning. Would the 
baby be overwhelmed with joy when the empire is given to 
him, or when he is decorated with a medal of great distinction? 
He will not even turn his head. We may say that the infant 
knows nothing of the world of grown-ups. But Ichiun will retort: 
"What is there of real worth in the adult's world? It is all 
vanity of vanities. What concerns the infant is the absolute 
present. He does not recollect the past, nor does he anticipate 
the future. Therefore, he is free, he knows no fear, no in- 
security, no anxiety, no ‘courage to be.’ ” What concerns the 
swordsman as well as every one of us, therefore, is to become 
conscious of this Heavenly Reason working in babes and suck- 
lings. They are not conscious of it, but they act it, and it is for 
us to bring into full consciousness the Nature as it reveals 
Heavenly Reason in us. To reach maturity does not mean to 




become a captive of conceptualization. It is to come to the 
realization of what lies in our innermost selves. This is “true 
knowledge” iryochi), “sincerity” imakoto), “reverence” (kei), 
“unmistakableness” {tanteki). However old a man may grow, 
he will not find it outworn. “Infantism” is ever fresh, energizing, 
and inspiring. 

For this reason, Ichiun’s instruction to his disciples is the 
simplest and apparently easiest possible one. For he says: 
“When with a sword you confront the enemy, advance toward 
him, if the distance is too far, and strike. When from the 
first the distance is just right, strike him from where you are. 
No thinking is needed. With most swordsmen, however, the 
case is different. As soon as they stand against the enemy, they 
fix their glance on him; survey the distance between them: take 
up the position which they think will be most advantageous; 
measure the length of the sword; reflect on what kind of 
technical trickeries they will use — ‘giving.’ ‘taking away.’ or 
’slowing' of motion; and so on. Their mind works in the busiest 
possible way on how best to make use of all the tactics they 
have learned. They have no idea whatever of Heavenly Reason 
and its functioning under varying conditions. The great mistake 
in swordsmanship is to anticipate the outcome of the engage- 
ment; you ought not to be thinking of whether it ends in victory 
or in defeat. Just let the Nature take its course, and your 
sword will strike at the right moment.” 

Perhaps the most momentous advice Ichiun gives us, as the 
first step in the training of the swordsman, is that he is to start 
the contest with the idea of an ai-uchi, a “mutual striking down.” 
This advice has an important psychological significance. Ai-uchi. 
in other words, means paying no attention whatever to the out- 
come of the contest, being concerned not at all with the question 
of coming out of it safely or not. When a man faces a deadly 
situation in this frame of mind, he is the most resolute, the 
most desperate, the most daring person, before whom no enemy 
can stand unless he himself has come to the same resolution. 



Such instances have already been given in this book. But the 
idea of an ai-uchi, one must remember, is what w'e start with 
as the preliminary step in the mastery of swordsmanship and 
not the step ^vith which it should finish. Let us heed what 
Ichiun, as an accomplished master and teacher of the “Sword of 
No-abode,” would further advise us. 

Ichiun’s second lesson constitutes the core of his methodology 
and at the same time demonstrates what a deep insight he has 
into the dark corners of human psychology. He writes: “The 
idea of an ai-uchi may not seem difficult to cherish at the start 
of the game, but as it progresses the contestant is sure to raise 
the hope of victory, and this is what most assuredly interferes 
with the natural functioning of Heavenly Reason in him.” So, 
Ichiun continues; “This is the moment for you to reflect: How 
is it that I seem to be double-minded? I start with the firm 
determination to end the contest in an ai-uchi, and nevertheless 
I begin to waver, wishing to be the victor. The reflection will 
now' put your mind in the state of kufu.'^ When you go on 

The term laild has been used several times before in the text, but I 
feel that it ha-, not yet been fully explained. Hence the following explana- 
tion. perhaps for the last time. It is one of the most significant words used 
in connection with Zen and also in the fields of mental and spiritual disci- 
pline. Generally, it means "to seek the way out of a dilemma,” or “to strug- 
gle to pass through a blind alley.” A dilemma or a blind alley may sound 
somewhat intellectual, but the fact is that this is where the intellect can go 
no further, having come to its limit, but an inner urge still pushes one some- 
how to go beyond. As the intellect is powerless, we may enlist the aid of 
the will: but mere will, however pressing, is unable to break through the 
impas-e. The will is closer to fundamentals than the intellect, but it is still 
on the surface of con-ciousness. One must go deeper yet, but how? This 
“how” is kuiu. No teaching, no help from the outside is of any use. The 
solution must come from the inmost. One must keep on knocking at the 
door until all that makes one feel an individual being crumbles away. That 
is. when the ego finally surrenders itself, it finds itself. Here is a newborn 
baby. Kiifu is a .“-ort of spiritual birth pang. The whole being is involved. 
There are physicians and psychologists who offer a synthetic medicinal sub- 
stance to relieve one of this pang. But we must remember that, while man 
is partially mechanistic or biochemical, this does not by any means exhaust 
his being; he still retains something that can never be reached by medicine. 




with it for some years you will finally have an insight into 
Heavenly Reason, which never subjects itself to any form of 
mobility, that is, to any irresolution of mind. For Reason, or 
Nature, or Mind {kokoro), or Substance — all of which are 
synonyms — remains forever quiet, unmoved, and unchanging, 
and it is indeed because of this quality that it acts in infinite 
ways and beyond the reach of thought.” 

Before I quit this lengthy exposition of the teaching of the 
school of swordsmanship called “Sword of No-abode, ’ I must 
not fail to mention four things in Ichiun’s manuscript that char- 
acterize his Sword: 

{1 ) The absence of a system of stereotyped techniques. 

(2) The meekness of spirit (ksdnti), or nonresistance, or 
nonaction — these terms strongly remind us of the philosophy of 
Lao-tzii and Chuang-tzu. 

(3) The conviction that “I am the only swordsman who has 
no peers in the world.” This matches the declaration which, 
according to Mahayana tradition, the Buddha made at his birth: 
“Heavens above and earth below, I alone am the most honored 
one!” This matching of the two declarations is interesting in a 
double sense: Ichiun applauds “infantism” as incarnating the 
principle of swordsmanship, while it was the infant Buddha 
who made the bold declaration. Ichiun’s “infant” is a fully 
matured swordsman who has gone through every stage of trials 
at the risk of his life. In either way, the spirit and teaching of 
Zen is discerned in Ichiun as well as in the legendary Buddha. 
Both want us to scratch away all the dirt our being has accumu- 
lated even before our birth and reveal Reality in its is-ness, or in 
its suchness, or in its nakedness, which corresponds to the 
Buddhist concept of emptiness (mnyata). 

(4) I have to add another item which in all probability 

This is where his spirituality lies, and it is kufu that finally wakes us to 
our spirituality, distinguishing us from mere animality as well as mere me- 


originated with the “Sword of No-abode”: the idea of ai-nuhe. 
This is something no other schools of swordsmanship have ever 
taught. When the game is well matched, it generally ends in an 
ai-uchi, “mutual striking-down,” while in the “Sword of No- 
abode” there is no such tragic culmination because the ending 
is an ai-nuhe and not an ai-uchi. As I stated before, nuke literally 
means “not hitting,” and therefore when this takes place neither 
hits the other and both escape unhurt. When either of the com- 
batants is not a perfect master of the “Sword of No-abode,” he 
invites, as it were, the real master’s sword to fall on him, and 
he thereby commits a kind of suicide. As far as the master 
himself is concerned, he harbors no murderous intent in his 
mind. The inevitability of the situation has compelled him to 
face the enemy. It is the enemy who is filled with the evil spirit 
of killing, his mind is not at all free from the egoism of destruc- 
tion. Therefore, when he comes before the master of the “Sword 
of No-abode,” the evil spirit possesses him and he is killed by this 
evil spirit while the master is not even aware of having struck 
the opponent down. We can say that here Heavenly Reason 
punishes those who go against it, and that the master’s “infant- 
ism’’ remains utterly innocent of all that has been going on about 

After reading Ichiun, my impression is that the author is not 
just a professional swordsman but essentially a Zen master who 
happens to use swordplay. His sword is like the Zen-man’s staff, 
which strikes the monk who would approach him with any undi- 
gested idea of Zen. Sekiun’s sword inherited by Ichiun is really 
the sword of nonaetion, that is, the sword of no-abode, which 
constitutes the essence of the philosophy of Prajhdpdramitd 
{hannya-haramita, in Japanese). 

Toward the end of his treatise on swordsmanship, Ichiun 
sums up the significance of his sword in the following way: 
“There are at present many schools of swordsmanship — more 


than two hundred — but they come primarily from the four princi- 
pal disciples of Kami-idzumi Ise no kami. My teacher Sekiun 
studied the art under one of these, Ogasawara Genshin. Genshin, 
after visiting China and learning the use of a weapon charac- 
teristically Chinese, invented a new method of swordplay of his 
own. which proved so ingenious that none of his former rivals 
could beat him. Sekiun my teacher studied this under Genshin 
and thoroughly mastered it. But later, when Sekiun came to 
understand Zen, he gave up everything he had learned under 
Genshin and took to the sword of nonaction. He now confronted 
his former teacher with this sword of his own attainment to see 
how it would work in practice against the old school, which 
solely relied on the mastery of technique and on the superiority 
of tactical cunning. The result was the defeat of the old school, 
showdng that it w'as then Sekiun my teacher whose swordsman- 
ship stood supreme, for nobody now could beat him in seven- 
teenth-century Japan.” 

Ichiun’s conclusion: The reason even the best swordsman of 
Japan could not defeat his teacher Sekiun after his study of 
Zen was that all the other swordsmen of any school whatever 
had one thing or another on which they built up their scheme of 
technical superiority. Sekiun’s sword, on the contrary, was one 
of no-abode embodying Heavenly Reason itself and going beyond 
the realm of human understanding. After his satori experience 
in Zen, there was no doubt that Sekiun reached the stage of 
holiness. For his “Sword of No-abode” has now nothing to do 
with tactical movements, technical subtleties, indeed with any- 
thing that is at all connected with swwdsmanship as it is ordi- 
narily practiced. Besides, the sw'ord is altogether independent of 
all sorts of worldly interests and motivations that taint the 
character of its wielder. And just because of the pure-heartedness 
and “empty-mindedness” (mushin, tvu-hsin) of the man, the 
sw'ord partakes of this quality and plays its role with the utmost 
degree of freedom. It was for this reason, Ichiun concludes, that 
no one could stand against it face to face unless he was of the 


same degree of spiritual attainment. Swordsmanship is, after all, 
not a matter of petty technique but of highly developed personal 
spirituality. Hence Ichiun’s declaration to the effect that there 
is no one who can be his equal. 


WHAT MAKES swordsmanship come closer to Zen than any 
other art that has developed in Japan is that it involves the 
problem of death in the most immediately threatening manner. 
If the man makes one false movement he is doomed forever, 
and he has no time for conceptualization or calculated acts. 
Everything he does must come right out of his inner mecha- 
nism, which is not under the control of consciousness. He 
must act instinctually and not intellectually. At the moment of 
the most intensely concentrated struggle for life and death, 
what counts most is time, and this must be utilized in the most 
effective way. If there were the slightest moment of relaxation 
( suki ) the enemy would feel it instantly and lose no time in 
making use of it, which means your annihilation. It is not a 
matter of mere defeat and humiliation. 

The moment of intense concentration is the moment when a 
perfect identification takes place between subject and object, 
the person and his behavior. When this is not reached, it means 
that the field of consciousness has not yet been completely cleared 
up: that there still remains “a subtle trace of thought” (misai 
no ichinen) which interferes with an act directly and straight- 
forwardly issuing from the person — that is, psychologically 
speaking, from the Unconscious. The result is surely calamitous, 
for the threatening sword will strike the interfering gap of con- 

This is the reason why the sw'ordsman is always advised to 
be free from the thought of death or from anxiety about the 
outcome of the combat. As long as there is any “thought,” of 



whatever nature, that will most assuredly prove disastrous. The 
Chinese saying runs: “When you act resolutely even the gods 
will shun you.” Resolute-mindedness is the one thing that is 
urgently needed in swordsmanship. Without this there cannot 
be any sort of concentration, much less identification. Concen- 
tration, single-mindedness, one-pointed-ness ( ekagratd ) , resolute- 
mindedness — they all come to mean the same thing. When an 
act is to play the supreme role, it must be left all to itself. This 
moment is known in Zen as the state of “no-mind-ness” ( munen ) , 
corresponding to “infantism,” in which there is yet no inchoation 
of conceptualism. 

Some may wonder; resolute-mindedness is a highly human 
quality. We cannot attain it unless our mind goes through a 
process of training and becomes fully matured, for it is a sign 
of well-developed mentality. Being so, how can one be asked 
to give up one’s manly privilege and to return to the mental 
state of infancy? How can one go back to the start after liaving 
made the laborious journey? Or how can one identify a highly 
developed mind with the helplessness of a child? This is one 
way of looking at the matter, but we must not forget that there 
is another way in which the child excels him who is “fully de- 
veloped.” Let us see what that is. 

Being in such a hurry to make ourselves “fully developed,” 
we have utterly neglected the one most important quality the 
child has and we have, which is faith — a faith in an unknown 
being. The unknown may be called Heavenly Reason, the Nature, 
the True or Primary Mind, Tao, God, the LTnconscious, or the 
Inmost Self. Inasmuch as the unknown, whatever the name we 
may give it, refuses to be brought up to the conscious field of 
the mind, or loses its isness or suchness the moment conscious- 
ness tries to hold it in its grasp, therefore it has been left behind 
in our race for “development” and “maturation” — so much so 
that we have forgotten its existence and the part it performs 
without making us conscious of its reality. When the swordsman 
or the religious talks about childlikeness or “no-mind,” most of 


US fail to understand what it means. Or when we try to under- 
stand it. we bring it up or down ( according to how we evaluate 
it) to the ordinary level of consciousness and discourse on it 
in the way we do with other things that are found there. As a 
result we distort it, twist it, truncate it, misshape it, and make 
it altogether lose its original whatness. When somebody else 
now refers to it, we can no longer recognize it. Resolute-minded- 
ness applies to the work of restoration in which the "fully 
developed” are now engaged. It is not a question of developing 
what has already been developed but of recovering what has 
been left behind, though this has been with us. in us. all the 
time and has never been lost or distorted except for our mis- 
guided manipulation of it. But the swordsman, perhaps first 
instigated by the Zen masters and after a long trial experience 
of his own, has come to recognize the presence in himself and 
the importance of this "unknown quantity,” which we now 
strive in every way to describe. 

With this introduction, we may be able to comprehend better 
what follows, as given to us by various swordsmen who, though 
rich in practical experience, have not indulged much in philo- 
sophical presentation. 

i. Adachi Masahiro 

ONE ADACHI MASAHIRO of Kyoto, who claimed to be the 
founder of the school of swordsmanship called Shimbu-ryu (or 
/fmmu-ryu) , wrote a work entitled Heijutsu Yokun (“Essentials 
of Swordsmanship”), in two fascicles, dated 1790. It was first 
printed in the thirty-eighth year of Meiji (1905) as one of 
several treatises on cognate subjects compiled and edited by 
Arima Yusei and Inouye Tetsujird under the collective title 
Bushido Sosho (‘"Collection of Treatises on the Way of Sa- 
murai” ) . 



Adachi Masahiro emphasizes the importance of psychic 
training. The physical training and the mastery of technique are 
no doubt essential, but he who lacks psychic training is sure 
to be defeated. While being trained in the art, the pupil is to 
be active and dynamic in every way. But in actual combat, his 
mind must be calm and not at all disturbed. He must feel as if 
nothing critical is happening. When he advances, his steps are 
securely on the ground, and his eyes are not glaringly fixed on 
the enemy as those of an insane man might he. His behavior is 
not in any way different from his everyday behavior. No change 
is taking place in his expression. Nothing betrays the fact that 
he is now engaged in a mortal fight. 

To be able to act in this fashion when the swordsman meets 
his opponent and when his life is at stake with every movement 
means that the swordsman must have realized ‘’the immovable 
mind.” Physiologically speaking (as we would say today), he 
must have been thoroughly trained in keeping his kokoro way 
down in the abdominal region.'*'' When this is interpreted in 

‘‘Psychic” here does not refer to extrasensory phenomena. It includes all 
that is not material or physiological. The word "mental"’ is too psychological, 
and “spiritual” has some theological taint. I wish to make psyche stand 
here for the Japanese kokoro or seishin. Kokoro is a very comprehensive 
term. It first of all means the physical ’‘heart,” and then the true “heart” ( cona- 
tive and emotional), ‘"mind” (intellectual), “soul” (in the sense of an animat- 
ing principle), and “spirit” (metaphysical). In the case of the swordsman, 
the kokoro has rather a conative sense; it is the will in its deeper signification. 

^°The author has already distinguished two kinds of kokoro: one is the 
physical “heart” and the other is the true “heart.” The heart susceptible to 
emotionality is the first kind. When it is kept down below the navel, it be- 
comes immovable. Tnless this takes place, all the skill the swordsman may 
have acquired is of no use. C. G. Jung writes (in “Fundamental Psychological 
Conceptions,” a mimeographed report of fi\e lectures given under the auspices 
of the Institute of Medical Psychology in London, 193S) in this connection: 
“The Pueblo Indians told me that all Americans are crazy, and of course I was 
somewhat astonished and asked them why. They said, "Well, they say they think 
in their heads. No sound man thinks in the head. (Te think in the heart.’ They 
are just about in the Homeric age, when the region of the diaphragm was con- 
sidered the seat of psychical activity.” (I am grateful to Dr. Gerhard Adler for 
the clarification of this passage.) 


the modern way, it will mean that his diaphragm is to be kept 
downward so that his chest may have room enough for the lungs 
to breathe freely and the heart to beat unhindered. For one 
who feels excited in any sense over the situation, or one who 
calculates on overpowering the opponent by an aggressive exhi- 
bition of strength or by a cunning tactic designed to trip him up, 
is doomed to be outdone by the enemy who approaches the arena 
in a composed, well-balanced state of mind. From this it will 
be seen that in swordsmanship the technical skill is to be sub- 
ordinate to the psychic training, which will finally raise the 
swordsman even to the level of high spirituality. When spiritu- 
ality is attained, my 5 (miao) is manifested, wherein we ob- 
serve that swordplay is not just an art but has something of 
original creativity. 

Spiritual attainment may not be expected of every swordsman, 
however well disciplined in the technique, but when he fully 
makes up his mind not to come out alive from the combat, he 
may prove himself to be a formidable opponent even for a highly 
trained swordsman. Fear of death or attachment of any kind is 
liable to affect the movement of the sword, and the enemy is 
sure to make use of the opportunity to his advantage. 

hat distinguishes the art of swordsmanship most charac- 
teristically from any other branch of art, as we now clearly see, 
is that it is most intimately connected with the ultimate problem 
of life and death. And it is here that swordsmanship has taken 
itself to be a close ally to the study of Zen and even to aspire to 
a spiritual attainment of high degree. 

To illustrate what he means here, Adachi Masahiro gives the 
case of a desperate fighter who caused an expert swordsman to 
beat a retreat. The author gives this as a good example showing 
what a determined person, however unskilled in swordplay, can 

Once, when the feudal system was still in being, a man be- 
longing to the servant class happened to incur the great dis- 
Set' above, p. 1-12, n. 3. 


pleasure of a certain politically influential personage. This digni- 
tary demanded that the master surrender the servant, which 
naturally meant that the unfortunate man was to be put to death. 
The master had no choice but to yield to the demand of the 
aggrieved one. 

The master said to the servant: ‘‘It is a great pity that I 
have to give you up to this official, who is most likely to punish 
you with the death penalty. There is no help as far as I am con- 
cerned. Now I advise you to take up a sword and have a final 
combat with me, and after killing me to surrender yourself 
to the offended officer.” 

The servant replied, “That would be utterly unreasonable of 
me. You are a first-class swordsman and a teacher of the art. 
How could I expect to defeat you? — I, a mere servant, who have 
never handled the sword.” 

The master, being a prominent professional swordsman, cher- 
ished a secret wish to try his sword with one who had no hope 
of life whichever way he turned, and he said to the servant, 
“You try your luck anyway, and let me see how I can meet you.” 

When they stood each armed with a drawn sword, ready to 
have a deadly combat, the master swordsman found himself in 
the worse position. He was forced to step back until he stood 
against the wall, beyond which there was no room for further 
retreat. He himself had to make up his mind for a final decision. 
This was no joke nor matter of experiment. Thus cornered, with 
no hope of improving the situation, the swordsman uttered a 
cry of “Eh!” and struck down his opponent with one blow of 
the sword. 

Afterward, the master confessed to his pupils, “What a des- 
perate fight it was! I was almost beaten by the servant, whose 
fierce play with the sword was really irresistible. May you never 
experiment with such a match. When even an awkward servant 
can present such an irresistible front, how much more a swords- 
man of the first order!” 

One of the pupils asked, “When you retreated step by step. 


was it a tactic on your part, or were you really pressed so hard?” 

The master acknowledged, “Yes, I was really hard pressed.” 

“When, uttering ‘Eh!,’ you struck down the servant, did you 
discover a suki in him?” 

“There was no suki at all, but the wonder (myd) was that he 
fell under the sword.” 

The story ends here. The author, Adachi Masahiro, com- 
ments: “The wonder {myd) here referred to is not due to the 
working of the swordsman’s [conscious] mind, but to the ‘im- 
movable mind.’ When one’s will is fatally made up, even an un- 
skilled hand can offer such resistance to an expert. . . . This 
being so, the swordsman is not to think lightly of anybody, nor 
is he to feel timid before a strong opponent. The main point 
is to forget yourself as well as the opponent and to let the myo 
[unconscious] work itself out.” 

Then Adachi quotes Uyesugi Kenshin (1530-78), one of 
the most famous generals of the sixteenth century: “Fate is in 
Heaven, the armor is on the breast, success is with the legs. Go 
to the battlefield firmly confident of victory, and you will come 
home with no wounds whatever. Engage in combat fully deter- 
mined to die and you will be alive; wish to survive in the battle 
and you will surely meet death. When you leave the house 
determined not to see it again you w'ill come home safely; w'hen 
you have any thought of returning you w'ill not return. You may 
not be in the wrong to think that the world is always subject 
to change, but the warrior may not entertain this way of think- 
ing, for his fate is ahvays determined.” 

Let me remark in passing that the warrior or samurai or the 
swordsman is, I am afraid, an advocate of determinism. As 
long as w e are persuaded to think that there is a power of un- 
known source that breaks out in the midst of our humanly well- 
planned project and upsets the whole business, we cannot help 

See above, p. 143, n. 4. It means an opening in the line of concentration, 
which sliow? itself when the tension is relaxed owing to the intrusion of a 
disturbing idea or feeling. 



acknowledging our limitations. Free will or freedom of knowl- 
edge and action is no more than our dream. But the queerest 
question we can ask is: What is it that makes us dream when 
in actuality we are limited all around? What is it that makes us 
detach ourselves from the realities of life as we really live it and 
reflect upon them as if they were of no concern to us? Where 
does the idea of limitedness itself come from if not from the 
limitless beyond? 

ii. The Teaman and the Ruffian 

WHAT FOLLOWS is the story of a teaman who had to assume 
the role of a swordsman and fight with a ruffian. The teaman 
generally does not know anything about swordplay and cannot 
be a match in any sense of the word for anybody who carries 
a sword. His is a peaceful profession. The story gives us an 
idea of what a man can do with a sword even when he has 
never had any technical training, if only his mind is made up 
to go through the business at the risk of his life. Here is another 
illustration demonstrating the value of resolute-mindedness lead- 
ing up to the transcendence of life and death. 

Toward the end of the seventeenth century, Lord Yama-no- 
uchi, of the province of Tosa, wanted to take his teamaster 
along with him on his official trip to Yedo, the seat of the Toku- 
gawa Shogunate. The teamaster was not inclined to accompany 
him, for in the first place he was not of the samurai rank and 
knew that Yedo was not a quiet and congenial place like Tosa, 
where he was well known and had many good friends. In Yedo 
he would most likely get into trouble with ruffians, resulting not 
only in his own disgrace but in his lord’s. The trip would be a 
most risky adventure, and he had no desire to undertake it. 

The lord, however, was insistent and would not listen to the 
remonstrance of the teamaster; for this man was really great 
in his profession, and it was probable that the lord harbored the 


secret desire to show him off among his friends and colleagues. 
Not able to resist further the lord’s earnest request, which was 
in fact a command, the master put off his teaman’s garment 
and dressed himself as one of the samurai, carrying two swords. 

While staying in Yedo, the teamaster was mostly confined in 
his lord’s house. One day the lord gave him permission to go 
out and do some sight-seeing. Attired as a samurai, he visited 
Uyeno hy the Shinohazu pond, where he espied an evil-looking 
samurai resting on a stone. He did not like the looks of this man. 
But finding no way to avoid him, the teaman went on. The man 
politely addressed him: “As I observe, you are a samurai of 
Tosa, and I should consider it a great honor if you permit me 
to try my skill in swmrdplay with you.” 

The teaman of Tosa from the beginning of his trip had been 
apprehensive of such an encounter. Now, standing face to face 
with a ronin of the worst kind, he did not know what to do. 
But he answered honestly: “I am not a regular samurai, though 
so dressed; I am a teamaster, and as to the art of swordplay I 
am not at all prepared to be your opponent.” But as the real 
motive of the ronin was to extort money from the victim, of 
whose weakness he was now fully convinced, he pressed the 
idea even more strongly on the teaman of Tosa. 

Finding it impossible to escape the evil-designing ronin, the 
teaman made up his mind to fall under the enemy’s sword. But 
he did not wish to die an ignominious death that would surely 
reflect on the honor of his lord of Tosa. Suddenly he remem- 
bered that a few minutes before he had passed by a swordsman’s 
training school near Uyeno park, and he thought he would go 
and ask the master about the proper use of the sword on such 
occasions and also as to how he should honorably meet an 
inevitable death. He said to the ronin, “If you insist so much. 

In the feudal days the teaman was dressed in his own fashion and did 
not carry any weapons about him. I may add, it is not clear to me why this 
teaman had to change his regular habit to that of a samurai. 

A ronin is a samurai who has lost his attachment to a master for vari- 
ous reasons, somewhat corresponding to the term ‘’free-lance.” 



we will try our skill in swordsmanship. But as I am now on my 
master’s errand, I must make my report first. It will take some 
time before I come back to meet you here. You must give me 
that much time.” 

The ronin agreed. So the teaman hastened to the training 
school referred to before and made a most urgent request to see 
the master. The gatekeeper was somewhat reluctant to acquiesce 
because the visitor carried no introductory letter. But when he 
noticed the seriousness of the man’s desire, which was be- 
trayed in his every word and in his every movement, he decided 
to take him to the master. 

The master quietly listened to the teaman, who told him the 
whole story and most earnestly expressed his wish to die as be- 
fitted a samurai. The swordsman said, ‘'The pupils who come to 
me invariably want to know how to use the sword, and not how 
to die. You are really a unique example. But before I teach you 
the art of dying, kindly serve me a cup of tea, as you say you 
are a teaman.” The teaman of Tosa was only too glad to make 
tea for him, because this was in all likelihood the last chance 
for him to practice his art of tea to his heart’s content. The 
swordsman closely watched the teaman as the latter was engaged 
in the performance of the art. Forgetting all about his approach- 
ing tragedy, the teaman serenely proceeded to prepare tea. He 
went through all the stages of the art as if this were the only 
business that concerned him most seriously under the sun at 
that very moment. The swordsman was deeply impressed with 
the teaman's concentrated state of mind, from which all the 
superficial stirrings of ordinary consciousness were swept away. 
He struck his owm knee, a sign of hearty approval, and ex- 
claimed, “There you are! No need for you to learn the art of 
death! The state of mind in which you are now is enough for 
you to cope with any swordsman. When you see your ronin 
outcast, go on this way: First, think you are going to serve 
tea for a guest. Courteously salute him, apologizing for the 
delay, and tell him that you are now ready for the contest. Take 



off your haori [outer coat], fold it up carefully, and then 
put your fan on it just as you do when you are at work. Now 
bind your head with the tenugui [corresponding to a towel], 
tie your sleeves up with the string, and gather up your hakama 
[skirt]. You are now prepared for the business that is to start 
immediately. Draw your sword, lift it high up over your 
head, in full readiness to strike down the opponent, and, closing 
your eyes, collect your thoughts for a combat. When you hear 
him give a yell, strike him with your sword. It will probably 
end in a mutual slaying.” The teaman thanked the master for 
his instructions and went back to the place where he had prom- 
ised to meet the combatant. 

He scrupulously followed the advice given by the sword- 
master with the same attitude of mind as when he was serving 
tea for his friends. When, boldly standing before the ronin, he 
raised his sword, the ronin saw an altogether different person- 
ality before him. He had no chance to give a yell, for he did not 
know where and how to attack the teaman, who now appeared 
to him as an embodiment of fearlessness, that is, of the Un- 
conscious. Instead of advancing toward the opponent, the ronin 
retreated step by step, finally crying, “I’m done, I’m done!” 
And, throwing up his sword, he prostrated himself on the 
ground and pitifully asked the teaman’s pardon for his rude re- 
quest, and then he hurriedly left the field. 

As to the historicity of the story I am in no position to state 
anything definite. \^’hat I attempt here to establish is the popular 
belief underlying the story cited here and others of similar 
character; this is that, underneath all the practical technique or 
the methodological details necessary for the mastery of an art, 
there are certain intuitions directly reaching what I call the 
Cosmic Unconscious, and all these intuitions belonging to various 
arts are not to be regarded as individually unconnected or mutu- 
ally individually unrelated, but as growing out of one fundamen- 
tal intuition. It is indeed firmly believed by Japanese generally 
that the various specific intuitions acquired by the swordsman. 



the teamaster, and masters of other branches of art and culture 
are no more than particularized applications of one great ex- 
perience. They have not yet thoroughly analyzed this belief 
so as to give it a scientific basis; but the fundamental experience 
is acknowledged to be an insight into the Unconscious itself as 
source of all creative possibilities, all artistic impulses, and 
particularly as Reality above all forms of mutability beyond the 
samsdra-sea of birth-and-death. The Zen masters, ultimately de- 
riving their philosophy from the Buddhist doctrine of sunyatd 
and prajnd, describe the Unconscious in terms of life, that is, 
of birth-and-death which is no-birth-and-death. To the Zen 
masters, thus, the final intuition is the going beyond birth-and- 
death and the attaining to the state of fearlessness. His satori 
is to mature to this, when wonders are accomplished. For the 
Unconscious then permits its privileged disciples, masters of the 
arts, to have glimpses of its infinite possibilities. 

Hi. Yamaoka Tesshu 

YAMAOKA TESSHU (1836-88), a great swordsman and a 
Zen-man, trained his pupils in a way characteristic of his Zen. 
The method apparently consists in leading them to a state of 
exhaustion physically as well as mentally. When they reach 
this state and are utterly unable to rise again, a certain stimulus 
is given which, working on them as a sort of electric shock, 
unexpectedly taps a new source of energy hitherto altogether 
hidden in them. The source may be regarded as corresponding 
to the Unconscious, which in the case of swordsmanship is per- 
haps the instinct of self-preservation, though not in its usual 
biological sense. The instinct is ordinarily intimately connected 
with the concept. The concept works in our consciousness as 
though it were the instinct itself, therefore with all the vitality 
attached to the instinct and reinforced emotionally by free associ- 


When the instinct alone, especially in its purely ontological 
status, acts without any conceptual interference, there is nothing 
to prevent its native virility. But when the concept enwraps and 
conditions it, it hesitates, looks around, and evokes the feeling 
of fear in its various forms, and the blind instinctual uncon- 
trollability is curbed or greatly impaired. Since the awakening 
of consciousness, man has turned into a conceptual being who 
deals with abstract ideas in his daily living. Life itself is handled 
in terms of conceptualism. Though the instincts are not sup- 
pressed, they have lost much of their native irresistibility and 
impulse to violent outburst. In one case at least, instinct has 
been “sublimated,” and its efflorescences have embellished 
human culture in various ways. I mean in the fields of intellect 
and utilitarianism, where conceptualization has produced great 
results. But in other fields where realities, including various 
instincts, are to be handled directly without mediatory inter- 
ference, or handled as they are in their pristine state of suchness, 
our habit of concept-making has done great damage. The damage 
is principally revealed in all the kinds of mental maladies and 
spiritual insecurity that plague modern men and women, per- 
haps including cases of juvenile delinquency. In swordsmanship 
the situation it creates is so acute and im-mediate ( in the sense 
of no medium ) as not to allow the interception of conceptual, 
consciously intellectual trickery. However instantaneously the 
sword may seem to be moving, when intellection interferes even 
an infinitesimal amount, time is wmsted and the enemy has 
the chance {suki} to strike you right down. The swordsman faces 
reality and not conceptualization. Hence its partiality to the Zen 
training, as already treated under the sections on Odagiri Ichiun 
and Yagyu Tajima no kami. 

Mr. Ogura IMasatsune, one of my friends, who is a great 
authority on Japanese swordsmanship, writes in his memoirs 
about the uay \amaoka Tesshu trained his pupils. Mr. Ogura 
Ogura Masatsune Danso (Tokyo: Koko-an, 1955). Privately circulated. 



quotes one of his friends who had personally gone through the 
training of Yamaoka, in somewhat the following manner: 

Yamaoka applied the teaching of Zen to his philosophy of 
swordsmanship and disciplined his pupils by telling them to 
discover by their personal experience the meaning of the “sword 
of no-sword,” which is based on the theory of absolute identity 
as propounded by Zen teachers. He originated what is known 
as Seigwan-Geiko. Seigwan is a Buddhist term meaning “vow” 
or “prayer” and geiko or keiko is “disciplining”; it is also 
called Tachikiri-Geiko or Kazu-GeikoJ'‘ It consists in repeat- 
ing contest after contest almost indefinitely, though the number 
is generally limited to one hundred in the morning and another 
hundred in the afternoon. Those who wish to go through this 
trial will notify the master, but the permission will not be readily 
given, because the master knows that the trial is one of the 
utmost severity, which only the strong and the brave can go 
through. When it is given, the public announcement is made 
and contestants are free to challenge the candidate. The trial 
may last from three days to a week. As the skin of the fingers 
and hands, though protected by gloves, is apt to break and get 
stained with blood, it is all to be wrapped in soft silk inside the 
gloves. The candidate is kept standing throughout the contests 
as the fresh combatants come up one after another, wdth no 

As for the candidate, the first day he is full of vigor, on the 
second he begins to feel fatigued, and on the third his arms and 
legs grow stiff and he can hardly hold his sword (made of split 
bamboo) properly. While it is to be held up with the point at 
about the level of the opponent’s eyes, he finds that he has 
ceased to be the master of his own limbs and bis sword stands 
vertically. As for his diet, he can now take only semiliquid or 
liquid food, and his urine has turned reddish. 

^^Tachikiri means “to keep on standing.” 

Kazu is “number” or “multiple.” 



The candidate, Mr. Kagawa Zenjiro, to whom Mr. Ogura is 
here referring, goes on to say that he was the first applicant to 
go through his test, and relates his experience in the following 

‘"On the third day of these strenuous exercises I could hardly 
raise myself from hed and had to ask my wife’s help. When she 
tried to lift me she felt as if raising a lifeless corpse and un- 
consciously withdrew her hands which she had placed under- 
neath my hack. And then I felt her tears on my face. Hardening 
myself to the utmost I admonished her not to be so weak-hearted. 
Somehow I succeeded with her help in raising the upper part of 
my body. 

“I had to use a cane to walk up to the training hall. I had 
also to be helped to put on my protecting equipment. As soon 
as I took my position, the contestants began to crowd in. After 
a while I noticed one member come in and approach the master 
to ask his permission to take part in the exercises. The master 
permitted him right away. I looked at him and at once realized 
that he was the one noted for his rascality, who, disregarding 
the swordsman’s usage, would thrust his bamboo sword to the 
naked throat behind the protecting gorget and keep it up even 
after he was already struck over his head by his victorious 

“When I saw him coming up to me, I made up my mind 
that this would be my last combat, for I might not survive the 
contest. \Vith this determination I felt within myself the surging 
up of a new energy. I was quite a different person. My sword 
returned to its proper position. I approached him now fully 
conscious of my fresh inner surge and lifting up the sword 
over my head, was ready to strike him with one blow of it. At 
this moment came the master’s emphatic command to stop, and 
I dropped my sword.” 

Mr. Kagawa added, writes Mr. Ogura, that Yamaoka at that 
moment saw his disciple come to the realization of “the sword 
of no-sword.” 


ZEN AND S W O R D S M A N S H I P / 1 1 

This is, indeed, a most strenuous and exhausting ordeal the 
swordsman had to go through under Yamaoka Tesshu’s tutor- 
ship. Tesshu knew from his long experience in Zen that a man 
has to die, for once, to his ordinary consciousness in order to 
awaken the Unconscious. A swordplayer is generally a man of 
great physical prowess, ahle to stand a good deal of physical 
training, while his mind is not so badly harassed with all sorts 
of metaphysical problems as are those of most Zen followers. The 
physical method, therefore, may be regarded as the only one to be 
employed in the case of a swordsman who sincerely desires to 
master the art. “The great death” Zen-men talk so much about 
thus comes also to be experienced by him. 


THESE historical examples supply us with enough material to 
draw this conclusion: When one is resolved to die, that is, when 
the thought of death is wiped off the field of consciousness, there 
arises something in it, or, rather, apparently from the outside, 
the presence of which one has never been aware of, and when this 
strange presence begins to direct one's activities in an instinctual 
manner wonders are achieved. These wonders are called my5. 
Myd is thus in some way related to instinct. When life is not 
intellectually and therefore consciously conditioned but left to 
the inner working of the Unconscious, it takes care of itself in an 
almost reflex automatic fashion, as in the case of the physiolog- 
ical functioning of an organic body. 

Now, the question may be asked: Every living being has an 
instinctive hate of death, and how could we make the conscious 
resolution to die? Yes, even at the most critical moment, when 
death is inevitable, we make every attempt to save ourselves. 
We die only when we are exhausted. Suicide is rather an ab- 
normality. But the fact is that it is only man who ever com- 
mits suicide, showing that there is something of more worth than 


life the preservation of which we are most intently concerned 
with. But we can ask again: Is it not only our conscious thought 
of death that we can destroy, while our innate desire for life still 
exists in our Unconscious? When we have erased the conscious 
desire for life we imagine that we willingly embrace death, but 
in point of fact is it not possible that we are still unconsciously 
craving life? As is the case with the lower animals and plants, 
they are not consciously asserting life, they just go on living and 
striving to continue this state of things unconsciously. We human 
beings are conscious of this striving, and because of this con- 
sciousness we carry on all kinds of imagination in regard to life 
and death. And is it really this imagination, or, strictly speaking, 
this delusion, and not the actuality of things as they are, that 
creates in us every occasion for worries, fears, harrowing antic- 
ipations? hen this delusion is wiped away, would not life itself 
look after its own welfare as it deems best? And would not this 
be the way the swordsman lets his life-preserving instinct work 
itself out in full accordance with Nature? Being freed from hu- 
man interference, which consists mainly of conscious intellection 
and self-deceiving deliberations. Nature now knows how best to 
proceed. It is, no doubt, of the utmost difficulty to wipe out the 
idea of death from the field of consciousness, but there is no 
reason we cannot do it, seeing that the conscious field is our 
deliberate cultivation, collective and individual. We need a strong 
decisive will, aided by insight, but we know that the will is cul- 
tivable. Especially the swordsman’s life is devoted to this form of 
discipline. He drives away his conscious notion of death from the 
field of consciousness we ordinarily recognize and permits the 
instinct of self-preservation to come forward, which then occu- 
pies the whole field of unconscious consciousness. The instinct is 
now absolutely unconditioned, there are no impediments offered 
by intellectual and emotional machination. Not only that, it 
knows how to make use of the technique consciously acquired 
by the man. When he reflects afterwards on the whole procedure 
he is struck with its wonderful achievements not at all consciously 



carried out, but as though by an agent outside himself. I be- 
lieve this is on the whole the psyehology of perfect swordsman- 

The “Immovable Mind” referred to in the various works on 
swordsmanship may be said in one sense to be the same thing 
mentioned in the letter by Takuan to Yagyu Tajima no kami, 
who was Takuan’s lay disciple and teacher of the reigning 
Shogun, lyemitsu. But Takuan’s mind goes far deeper than the 
swordsman’s, for the latter generally stops at being psychological, 
while Takuan, being a Zen master, sees into the very source of 
reality, whieh we may call the metaphysical or cosmic Uncon- 
scious, though the term is liable to be misunderstood because of 
its psychological connotation. The main point is that the swords- 
man’s insight is limited: he carries a sword; he faces an oppo- 
nent or opponents; he sees that his life is at stake though he is 
not at all afraid of meeting the situation; his instinctual craving 
for life, though quite unconscious, is not effaced; he has not 
yet attained to the state of emptiness which comes upon one when 
the reservoir of alayavijfiana is completely broken up. He does 
very well as far as his immediate business is concerned. But when 
he comes back to his ordinary everyday life, his everyday con- 
sciousness also comes back, and be is again an ordinary man 
with all his desires, attachments, and insecurities. 

It is different with the Zen master. His start is with the funda- 
mental problem of reality, with the ultimate significance of life, 
with the totality of his personality. The swordsman is also con- 
fronted with the question of life and death, which almost covers 
the whole extent of existence; but it is only when he feels an 
urgent urge to go very much deeper that he and the Zen master 
begin to walk hand in hand along the road to ultimate reality. 
The swordsman stops short at the instinctual Unconscious, 
whereas the Zen-man walks on until the whole universe, rather 
the whole emptiness of space, is broken to pieces. Yagyu Tajima 
no kami is right when he says: 

A paraphrase. 




"The Mind ihohoro) is Emptiness iku, k’ung, sunyatd) it- 
self, but out of this Emptiness an infinity of acts is produced: 
in hands it grasps, in feet it walks, in eyes it sees, etc. This Mind 
must once be taken hold of, though it is indeed very difficult to 
have this experience because we cannot get it from mere learning, 
from the mere listening to others talk about it. Swordsmanship 
consists in personally going through this experience. When this is 
done, one’s words are sincerity itself, one's behavior comes right 
out of the Original Mind emptied of all ego-centered contents. 
The mind we generally have is defiled, but the Original Mind is 
pure — the Tao itself. 

‘T talk as though I have experienced all this, but really I am 
far from being a Tao-man. I note it down simply because all 
human life ought to be in conformity with this view of the Mind. 
If we are still unable to apply it to every phase of our life, as 
swordsmen we must have it at least in the exercise of our art.” 

Yagyu Tajima no kami is quite frank in acknowledging that 
he is still incapable of realizing the Mind as Emptiness, while he 
fully knows his position as regards swordsmanship. He must have 
thoroughly studied the instruction given him by his Zen master 
Takuan. Takuan was a well-seasoned master of Zen. Probably 
he never studied swordplay as the professional samurai did, but 
there was no doubt that he could take up the sword and acquit 
himself ahly with any one of the experts, including Yagyu Ta- 
jima no kami, who was at tlie time conceded to be the best 
swordsman of Japan. Yagyu himself, however, must have real- 
ized that he w'as no actual match for Takuan, as we can see from 
the letter he left to his best disciples on swordsmanship, and also 
from some other sources that treat of the Zen master’s encounter 
with professional swordsmen."' 

Odagiri Ichiun’s manuscript on swordsmanship, already the 
subject of a lengthy discourse above, throws more light in this 
connection. What I mean is the title of his school, which reflects 
the philosophy of the Mahayana school of Buddhism, especially 
See abo\e. p|i. 9> ff., 150 ff. 


ZEN AND S W O R D S M A N S H I P / 1 1 

of the Zen teaching. Odagiri Ichiun, or rather Hariya Sekiun, 
who was Ichiun’s teacher and the founder of the school, called 
it ‘"The Sword of No-abiding j\Iind” (Mujushin-ken) . This 
phrase is taken from the Mahayana-Budclhist Vimalakirti Su- 
tra ( i uima Kyo ) , one of the texts very much used by Zen-men. 
The sutra describes the ultimate source of all things as ‘"No- 
abode.” “No-abode” or ‘"having no abiding place anywhere” 
means that the ultimate source of all things is beyond human 
understanding, beyond the categories of time and space. As it 
thus transcends all modes of relativity, it is called ‘"having no 
abode” to which any possible predications are applicable. The 
sword used by men of this school is, therefore, no ordinary sword 
with a form, or at least with a definitely designated form. Being 
swordsmen, they no doubt carry a sword in their hands when 
encountering an actual opponent, but the sword is a sword of 
formless form. When an enemy stands before it, therefore, he 
does not know how to cope with it, he cannot trace its movements, 
and before he can adjust himself he is already beaten down. The 
opponent can never understand how all this happened, because 
as soon as he appears before this '"no-abiding” sword, we may 
say that his head is already no longer on his shoulders. 

The reader may ask: What kind of sword could the Sword of 
No-abode be? Is not the swordsman holding an actual one in his 
hands that makes us bleed wlien we touch it? 

Bukko the National Teacher (1226—86), the founder of the 
Engakuji monastery in Kamakura, came to Japan at the invita- 
tion of Hojo Tokimune in 1279. While still in China he was 
threatened by soldiers of the Mongolian armies overrunning 
southern China. No respecters of religion, they were about to 
strike down this solitary monk as he was devoting himself to 
meditation. The monk, not at all disturbed, recited a verse of his 
own composition: 

There is not a room in the whole universe where 
one can insert even a single stick; 




I see the emptiness of all things — no objects, no persons. 

I admire the sword of the Great Yilan “ three 
feet in length: 

[When it cuts at all,] it is like cutting the spring 
breeze with a flash of lightning. 

The sword in the hands of the Mongolian warriors was to the 
Zen monk no better than the blowing of the wind. It merely 
passed over his head, for his real being, filling up the whole uni- 
verse, remains forever unchanged — no swords, no bombs of any 
sort could ever touch it. The soldiers were unable to understand 
what all this meant, and it is said that they left this quizzical 
monk unmolested, perhaps disgusted with his “immobility.” 

The sword of the Great Yiian, from the Zen monk’s point of 
view, was a “Sword of No-abode,” whether it was held in the 
hands of an enemy or in his own. The difference between Bukko 
and Ichiun is that the latter holds the sword in his own hands 
while Bukko is about to be struck with it; one is the subject while 
the other is the object. For Ichiun as well as Bukko, the swinging 
of the sword is like cleaving the wind or the air. 

In one of the poems left by Fu Daishi (Fu Hsi, 497-569), of 
the Liang dynasty, we have: 

I hold a spade in my hands, and yet 1 hold it not; 

1 walk and yet / ride on the water buffalo. 

What kind of spade can it be that is held in the hands and yet 
is not found there? It is no other than “the Sword of No-abode.” 
Fu Daishi s garden implement and Ichiun’s sword that gives life 
are not different from one another, they all come from the Mind 
that is no-Mind. Fu Daishi s spade was once in Adam’s hands 
when he was still in the Garden of Eden; Ichiun’s sword is the 
sword in the hands of Acala the Immovable and also the Prajhd- 

^"The Mongolian dynasty (1260-1367) that invaded China and replaced 
the Sung dynasty. 




sword in the hands of Mahjusri the Bodhisattva. It kills and yet 
gives life, according to the frame of mind of him who approaches 

Banzan Hojaku ( P’an-shan Pao-chi) was one of the great 
masters of Zen in the T’ang dynasty. He once gave this sermon: 

“[Zen is] like one’s wielding the sword in the air, one does not 
ask whether it hits the object or not; the air is not cleft, the 
sword is not broken.” On another occasion he said: “There are 
no dharmas [that is, objects] in the triple world, and where do 
we search for the Mind? The four elements are from the first 
empty, and where could the Buddha find his abode? The heavenly 
axle remains unmoved, all is quiet and no words are uttered. It is 
presented right to your face, nothing more is to be done.” 

Dokyo Yetan ( 1641—1721 ) who is better known as Shoju Bo- 
nin fShoju the Old Gentleman), was the teacher of Hakuin [40.42,60 
(1685-1768), who is one of the great modern Zen masters of 
Japan. Shoju Bonin had once a swordsman visitor who said: 

“I have been disciplined in swordsmanship since my younger 
days. For the past twenty years I have been assiduously employed 
in the study of it under teachers of different schools, and I am 
master of all their secrets. I now have a great wish to establish a 
school of my own and have been at it for some time. In spite of 
my most arduous search for the ultimate principle of a new 
school, I have not been able to take hold of it. All my efforts to 
realize the ultimate myd have so far been a complete failure. Is 
it possible for you to teach me the way to it?” 

After attentively listening to this, Shoju Bonin stood up from 
his seat and struck the swordsman three times with both his fists, 
using all the strength in him. Not only this, the Bonin kicked the 
man down onto the floor. It was indeed the roughest treatment 

The following story is taken from Imagita Kosen (1817-93), Life of 
Shoju Ronin. First published independently and later incorporated in the 
Collected fL orks of Hakuin and of the Zen Masters Related to Him (To- 
kyo, 1935). 



one can get from another, but it produced tlie desired effect on 
the swordsman, because he then had a satori. It is said that the 
experience opened up a new vista to his art. 

The report of this interview caused a stir among the swords- 
men in the neighborhood, and they began to visit Shoju R5nin 
inquiring how to make Zen work with tlieir profession. One day 
they invited Shoju Ronin to tea and had him watch the contests 
among themselves. Finally, they said: “You are a great master 
of Zen, and as far as theory is concerned we cannot compete with 
you. But when the question comes to actual use of the sword, we 
are afraid that you cannot beat us.” 

Shoju Ronin said, “If you wish to strike me, just strike, but I 
am afraid that you cannot,” 

The swordsmen exchanged an ominous glance among them- 
selves and said, “Would you really permit us to have a trial once 
with you?” 

The Ronin agreed. 

They stood up and were ready to try the sword with the Zen 
ma.ster. The latter, however, refused to take a sword, saying, “I 
am a Buddhist. Here is a fan and it will be my weapon. Strike 
when you are ready. If you do, I will grant that you are a good 

Lifting their swords high up and uttering loud cries, they tried 
by every means to strike the master. But his fan was seen every- 
where and there was no opening for them to let the weapon fall 
upon him. They at last had to acknowledge their defeat. 

Later, there was a monk who asked Shoju Ronin, “As to Zen, 
I would not say anything, but how did you ever manage to play 

The Ronin said, “When the right insight is gained and knows 
no obstruction, it applies to anything, including swordplay. The 
ordinary people are concerned with names. As soon as they hear 
one name a discrimination takes place in their minds. The owner 
of the right eje sees each object in its own light. When he sees 




the sword, he knows at once the way it operates. He confronts 
the multiplicity of things and is not confounded.” 

Mr. Takano Shigeyoshi. now eighty years old, is one of the 
greatest swordsmen modern Japan has produced. While writing 
about a bamboo sword in a short essay recently, Mr. Takano 
refers to the psychology of swordplay. 

“When I have a bamboo sword most suited to my personal 
taste in respect of weight, formation, tone, etc., 1 can enter 
more readily into a state of identity where my body and the 
sword I hold become one. It goes without saying that as soon as 
one cherishes the thought of winning the contest or displaying 
one’s skill in technique, swordsmanship is doomed. When all 
these thoughts are done away with, including also the idea of 
the body, one can realize the state of oneness in which you are 
the sword and the sword is you — for there is no more distinction 
between the two. This is what is known as the psychology of 
muga f ‘no-ego’ or ‘no-mind’). This perhaps corresponds to 
what Buddhism calls a state of emptiness. It is then that all 
thoughts and feelings, which are likely to hinder the freest op- 
eration of whatever technique one has mastered, are thoroughly 
purged, and one returns to one’s ‘original mind’ divested of its 
bodily encumbrances. 

“1 sometimes feel that when the marionette master puts his 
mind wholly into the play his state of mind attains something of 
the swordsman’s. He is then not conscious of the distinction be- 
tween himself and the doll he manipulates. The play becomes 
really an art when the master enters into a state of emptiness. 

A wooden sword Mas used in practice before a bamboo one replaced it. 
The bamboo is split into slats, which are "woven together and held by pieces 
of leather. Four well-seasoneil bamboo strips make a good shinai (lit., “plia- 
ble*’) OT chikiito ( lit., ’‘bamboo-sword”). 

The essay was published in the popular magazine Bungei Shunju (“Liter- 
ary Annals”; July, 1956). 



Some may feel like seeing a difference between the marionette 
master and the swordsman, because of the latter’s confronting a 
living personality who is aiming every moment at striking you 
down. But my way of thinking is different, inasmuch as both 
have realized the state of identity it must operate alike regardless 
of its objectives. 

“When the identity is realized, I as swordsman see no oppo- 
nent confronting me and threatening to strike me. 1 seem to 
transform myself into the opponent, and every movement he 
makes as well as every thought he conceives are felt as if they 
were all my own and I intuitively, or rather unconsciously, know 
when and how to strike him. All seems to be so natural.” 

What may be called Mr. Takano’s “super-psychology” of self- 
identity fitly describes the perfect swordsman’s mind when he 
actually confronts the opponent. As long as he is conscious of 
holding the sword and standing opposed to an object and is try- 
ing to make use of all the technique of swordplay he has learned, 
he is not the perfect player. He must forget that he has an in- 
dividual body known as “Takano” and that a part of it holds the 
sword, which he is to employ against another individuated body. 
He now has no sword, no body. But this does not mean that all 
has vanished into a state of nothingness, for there is most de- 
cidedly a something that is moving, acting, and thinking. This is 
what Mr. Takano and other swordsmen, the Taoist and Buddhist 
philosophers, designate as “the original mind” {honshin), or “the 
mind of an infant” (akago no kokoro), or “the true man” 
(shinjin; chen-jen in Chinese), or “the perfect man” (shijin; 
chih-jen) , or the original face” {honrai no memmoku; pen-lai 
mien-mu) . 

This mysterious “non-existent” quiddity “thinks and acts” 
without thinking and acting, for according to Mr. Takano “he” 
perceives every thought that is going on in the mind of “one who 
stands opposed, ’ as if it were his own, and “he” acts accordingly. 




“He” is evidently not he, nor is “he” not-he, as we have in a 
world of opposites. When this not-he falls, he does not know that 
it is “he” or not-he. When all is over, “the original mind” comes 
back to itself, that is, to its own consciousness, and this is the 
awakening of “one thought” (ichinen), the separation of light 
from darkness, of subject from object, the rising of a dichotomous 
world. This is what Asvaghosa, the author"’^ of The Awakening 
of Faith, calls “the sudden awakening of thought” (in Chinese, 
hu-jan nien ch’i; in Japanese, kotsunen nenki) . This is the sit- 
uation in which Mr. Takano or Yagyu Tajima no kami, Odagiri 
Ichiun or Miyamoto Musashi, finds himself — standing with the 
sword before the fallen “enemy” so called. 

Emerson’s poem “Brahma” fittingly illustrates the perfect 
swordsman’s psychology: 

If the red slayer think he slays. 

Or if the slain think he is slain. 

They know not tvell the subtle ways 
I keep, and pass, and turn again. 

Far or forgot to me is near; 

Shadow and sunlight are the same; 

The vanished gods to me appear; 

And one to me are shame and fame. 

They reckon ill who leave me out; 

When me they fly, I am the wings; 

I am the doubter and the doubt. 

And I the hymn the Brahmin sings. 

The strong gods pine for my abode. 

And pine in vain the sacred Seven; 

But thou, meek lover of the good! 

Find me, and turn thy back on heaven. 

Asvaghosa, a great Indian exponent of Mahayana philosophy. The text 
has been translated by the present author from Chinese into English. 



God creates the world and finds himself exclaiming ‘'It is 
good.” God has not committed any moral or immoral act. It 
is simply “good.” And this “goodness” of things as they are is 
sono-mama in Japanese Zen and Shin terminology. 

The following passage paraphrased from the Chuang-tzu 
(XIX) may be of interest: 

A man called Sonkyu (Sun-hsiu) came to Henkei-shi ( Pien 
Ch’ing-tzu ) and said; ‘‘When I was in my native town there was 
nothing I did not practice in the way of morality, there was no 
difficult situation into which I was not courageous enough to 
plunge myself. And yet wlien I am engaged in my fields they do 
not yield good harvests; when I serve a master he does not 
show me any favor. I was driven away from my native town. I 
am an outcast from my province. What sins did 1 commit against 
Heaven? \^'hat kind of fate am I going to suffer?” 

Henkei answered, “Have you never heard of how the perfect 
man (chih-jen) behaves himself? He forgets his own viscera, he 
is not conscious of his own bodily existence. He saunters away 
from a world of defilement as if he did not belong to it, he 
engages himself in every kind of activity as if he were not en- 
gaged in it at all. This is the meaning of the dictum: ‘A work is 
accomplished and lay no claim to it: let things grow up by them- 
selves and exercise no authority.’ But in your case you make a 
show of your intelligence, which frightens the backward people; 
you take to moral discipline which brings out defects in others. 
You act as shiningly as if the sun or the moon is fully out. You 
had better congratulate yourself that you have preserved your 
body whole m ith all the nine orifices and have not in the mean- 
time suffered the misfortune of turning deaf or blind or lame, and 
that you are still counted as human. What leisure is yours to rail 
against Heaven? Begone!” 

One thing ne have to notice in these accounts of swordsmanship 
given by the various writers on the subject is that the Japanese 



swordsman never thinks of defending himself but always of at- 
tacking, and thus that he is from the first advised not to think 
of coming out of the combat alive. Especially in the case of 
Odagiri Ichiun, he tells his disciples to meet the opponent with 
the idea of an ai-uchi, that is, with no thought of surviving the 
fight. This tactic of always being on the offensive and not the de- 
fensive may be a Japanese characteristic, and may account for 
their holding the sword in both hands, leaving nothing for 
defense. I do not know how early in the history of the Japanese 
weapons this usage dates. In any case, it is a significant fact 
that the Japanese sword has a long hilt, so that the warrior can 
seize it with both hands and strike the enemy with the full force 
of his being. 

To be always on the offensive in a single-handed engagement 
means that one’s mind is bent in any circumstances on striking 
the enemy regardless of one’s own safety, absolutely free from 
the thought or fear of death. If there is anything in the mind that 
even remotely approaches this, one can never assume a positive 
attitude, for there would always be a residue of negativistic re- 
straint arising from the instinct of self-preservation. The problem 
of death is from the very start to be discarded. Especially with 
Yagyu Tajima no kami, this is the reason the swordsman is most 
emphatically advised to be fearless or even reckless as regards 
his coming out of the combat alive. Once he stands against an 
opponent, he is positively to identify himself with the sword in 
his hands and to let the sword function as it will. 

Psychologically stated, the sword now symbolizes the Uncon- 
scious in the person of the swordsman. He then moves as a kind 
of automaton. He is no more himself. He has given himself up 
to an influence outside his everyday consciousness, which is no 
other than his own deeply buried Unconscious, whose presence 
he was never hitherto aware of. But we must remember that it is 
no easy task to realize this state of mind, for a man has to go 
through a great deal of discipline, not only moral but highly 
spiritual. As Ichiun says, a first-class swordsman must also be a 




“perfect man”; he is not only to be great in his profession, but 
as a moral character he is also to be great in every way; the 
swordsman must be more than a mere technician who cannot 
think of anything else but displaying his skill in the art of killing. 
As long as the technician is impatient in the demonstration of his 
art he can never come out victorious in his combat. The en- 
counter of one Umedzu with Toda Seigen “ affords us a fine 
example of the sad fate met by an imperfect personality, and it 
also proves that the sword is after all the symbol of spirituality 
and not an instrument of wanton killing. 

A swordsman called Umedzu, probably of the early seven- 
teenth century, was known for his proficiency in the art of 
swordplay and was quite conscious of it himself. When he heard 
that Toda Seigen was coming to Mino, where Umedzu was 
teaching the art. he was anxious to try his skill with him. Seigen, 
however, was not at all eager to accept the challenge. He said, 
“The sword is used only when criminals are punished or when 
honor is involved. Neither of us is a criminal, nor is there any 
question of honor between us. What then is the use of a contest?” 
Umedzu took this for an excuse on Seigen’s part to avoid defeat. 
He grew all the more arrogant and publicly asserted himself to 
that effect. 

Sait5 Yoshitatsu, lord of Mino, heard of the challenge and, 
getting interested in the matter, dispatched two of his retainers 
and courteously asked Seigen to accept. But Seigen refused to 
respond. The request was thrice repeated. Not being able to re- 
fuse any longer, he consented. An umpire was to be elected. The 
place and the date were settled. 

Umedzu took the matter quite seriously and devoted two nights 
and three days in succession to practicing a religious rite of 
purification. Someone suggested to Seigen that he follow the 
example. But he quietly declined, saying, “I am always culti- 

■“‘The story is quoted from a book called Biibi W akun, by Katajima 
Takenori, who resided in O-aka early in the eighteenth century. The bock, 
published in 1717. contains the general moral injunctions for the samurai. 



vating a heart of sincerity. It is not something the gods will give 
me in cases of emergency. 1 have no idea of hurting anybody. 
I have simply accepted the challenge because I thought it was not, 
after all, gentlemanly to keep on refusing so persistent a request 
from the lord of the province.” 

When the day came, both combatants appeared in the ap- 
pointed field. Umedzu was accompanied by a large number of 
his pupils. He carried a wooden sword as long as three feet 
six inches, while Seigen had a short one no longer than one foot 
three inches. Umedzu then asked the umpire to permit the 
use of a real sword. This was transmitted to Seigen who, how- 
ever, declined the proposal, adding that if Umedzu wished he 
was free to have a real sword instead of a wooden one in the 
impending contest; as for himself, Seigen was contented with his 
short wooden substitute. The umpire decided that each should 
have a wooden piece and not the steel, though its length was left 
to each to choose his own. 

Both were now ready. Umedzu with his longer weapon acted 
like a fierce lion trying to strike the opponent down with one 
blow. Seigen looked quite nonchalant, like a sleepy cat about to 
catch a rat. When they had been facing each other for a while, 
Seigen uttered a cry and at once his short sword apparently 
struck Umedzu’s neck, for it began to bleed. Incensed with this 
blow, Umedzu tried to crush the opponent with all his energy in 
one sweeping stroke of his long heavy stick. But before this was 
done Seigen gave another hard blow on his opponent’s right 
arm, which made Umedzu drop his weapon. It was broken into 
two pieces under Seigen’s feet. Umedzu now' attempted to un- 
sheath the sword in his belt, but his arm failed to obey his 
will, and he fell to the ground. One of the onlookers later re- 
ported, “Seigen’s action was like splitting a piece of bamboo — - 
so easy, so clear-cut, so indifferent.” — And “so unobstructed,” 
the Kegon Buddhists might add. 

Seigen was no more a mere swordsman, he was Chuang-tzu’s 
“perfect man” who “could not be drowned in water nor burned 



in fire.” Umedzu was just the opposite. He knew nothing of the 
moral and the spiritual side of his art that was really the essence 
of it. His egotistic pride was boundless. He thought his self-assert- 
ing aggressiveness, backed by his mastery of the technique, made 
complete swordsmanship. He never realized that mere offensive- 
ness, characterizing the Japanese method of swordplay, was after 
all nothing unless something transcending the sportive spirit of 
winning and losing controlled the entire procedure of combat. 
Not only must the desire to be victorious or to be not defeated en- 
tirely absent itself from the consciousness of the combatant; the 
philosophical problem of life and death must be fully settled, 
not theoretically or conceptually, indeed, but in the most con- 
cretely practical way. For this reason Ichiun as well as Yagyu 
Tajima no kami emphasized the importance of Zen training 
whereby the swordsman would be able to transcend the limits of 
his technique. 


IN CONNECTION with swordsmanship, there is another psy- 
chological phenomenon that may be of interest to “parapsychol- 
ogists.” It is a sort of telepathy or mind reading that seems to 
develop in some swordsmen. Yagyu Tajima no kami is said to 
have had this “sixth sense.” According to my view, this comes 
out of a very much deeper source, and cannot be subsumed under 
the category of an abnormal or extraordinary psychic phenom- 

According to the author of the book Gekken Sodan*'^ Ta- 
jima no kami took a walk in his garden one fine spring day and 
seemed to be intensely absorbed in admiring the cherries now in 
full bloom. He was accompanied by a boy attendant, who carried 
his sword behind him. The boy secretly harbored the idea: “How- 
ever skilled my lord may be in the art of swordplay, he might 
See above, p. 129. 




easily be attacked from behind as he stands so enchanted by the 
cherry blossoms.” Tajima no kami thereupon happened to look 
around him as if he wished to locate somebody hiding. Seeing 
nobody, he came back to his room. Leaning against a post, he 
stood quietly for some time, looking in every way as if he had 
gone altogether out of his mind. The attendants were all afraid 
of approaching him. One of them finally came forward and asked 
if the lord felt well and if they could help him in some way. An- 
swered Tajima no kami: “1 feel very well, but some strange in- 
cident has been troubling me for some time which I cannot ex- 
plain. By virtue of my long training in swordplay, I can feel 
whatever thoughts might be moving in the mind of the one who 
stands against me, or is around me. While 1 was in the garden, 
most unexpectedly I became aware of a ‘murderous air.’ I looked 
around, but except for my boy attendant there was not even a 
dog in the neighborhood. 1 cannot give an account of my feel- 
ing. I am disgusted with myself. Hence this absent-mindedness.” 

The boy attendant, learning of this report, approached the 
lord, confessed all that had happened to him while standing be- 
hind the lord, and humbly asked for his forgiveness. This pleased 
Tajima no kami, who said, “It is all clear now.” 

The following story of animal intelligence is remarkable. 
If this could be subjected to experiment, it might give us an 
unusual insight into the monkey’s instincts. We humans have lost 
most of the instincts that are frequently demonstrated by the 
so-called lower animals, and we are apt to imagine that such 
stories as this are entirely fictitious. The following one also comes 
from Yagyu Tajima no kami. 

He used to keep two monkeys as pets. They were allowed to 
watch his pupils going through training. Being by nature ex- 
tremely imitative, and being fond of sports, they apparently 
learned the way to handle the sword and engage in the game. 
They became experts, in a way. When a ronin who was friendly 
with the lord expressed the wish to try his spearmanship with 
him, the lord suggested that the man first try it with one of his 



monkeys. The ronin felt greatly hurt, for he thought he was hu- 
miliated. When they were ready to fight, the monkey with a 
shinai and the ronin with a spear, the man, bent on striking the 
animal with one blow, fiercely thrust his spear against him. The 
monkey, however, in a most nimble manner dodging it, closed 
up to the ronin and struck him. The ronin then held the spear in 
a defensive attitude, but this was of no avail. The monkey leaped 
on the shaft. The spearman had to acknowledge his defeat. 

When he came back blushing with shame to Tajima no kami, 
the lord remarked, “I was sure from the start of your inability to 
stand against the monkey.” 

The ronin stopped visiting the lord. About half a year elapsed. 
Then, expressing the desire to have another contest with the 
monkey, he appeared again before the lord. The lord this time 
perceived that the monkey was no longer any match for him and 
refused to grant his request. But, as the ronin was insistent, the 
monkey was brought in. As soon as they stood against each other 
ready for the fray, the monkey threw up his weapon and ran 
away crying. Tajima no kami concluded, “Was I not right?” 
Later he recommended the ronin to the service of his colleague. 


Zen and Haiku 

I T IS impossible to speak of Japanese culture apart from 
Buddhism, for in every phase of its development we recognize 
the presence of Buddhist feeling in one way or another. There 
are, in fact, no departments of Japanese culture which have not 
undergone the baptism of Buddhist influence, an influence so per- 
vasive, indeed, that we who are living in its midst are not at all 
conscious of it. Since its introduction into our country officially 
in the sixth century. Buddhism has ever been a most stimulating 
formative agent in the cultural history of Japan. We can almost 
state that the very fact of its introduction was due to the wish, 
on the part of the ruling classes of the time, to make Buddhism 
the agency of cultural advancement and political consolidation. 

However this may be, Buddhism rapidly and inevitably came 
to be identified with the State. While it is doubtful, from the 
purely religious point of view, whether or not such identification 
was really good for the healthy development of spiritual Bud- 
dhism, the historical fact is that Buddhism was thoroughly mixed 
up with the political power of the successive governments and 
helped them to further their policies in various ways. And as the 
sources of Japanese culture have generally been in the hands of 
the upper ruling classes, it was natural that Buddhism took for 
itself an aristocratic pattern. 

If we want to see the degree to which Buddhism has entered 
into the history and life of the Japanese people, let us imagine 
that all the temjiles and the treasures sheltered therein were 



completely destroyed. Then we should feel what a desolate place 
Japan would be, in spite of all her natural beauty and kindly 
disposed people. The country would then look like a deserted 
house with no furniture, no pictures, no screens, no sculptures, 
no tapestries, no gardens, no flower arrangements, no No plays, 
no art of tea, and so on. 


TO CONFINE myself to Zen and its influence on, or rather its 
relationship to, Japanese culture, it is desirable once more, 
though briefly, to touch on some features of Zen Buddhism that 
specifically appeal to the Japanese mentality. 

No doubt the philosophy of Zen is that of Mahayana Buddhism 
in general, but it has its own characteristic method of realizing it. 
This consists in seeing directly into the mystery of our own being, 
which, according to Zen, is Reality itself. Zen thus advises us not 
to follow the verbal or written teaching of Buddha, not to believe 
in a higher being other than oneself, not to practice formulas of 
ascetic training, but to gain an inner experience which is to take 
place in the deepest recesses of one’s being. This is an appeal to 
an intuitive mode of understanding, which consists in experienc- 
ing what is known in Japanese as satori (ivu in Chinese). With- 
out satori there is no Zen. Zen and satori are synonymous. The 
importance of this satori experience has thus now come to be 
regarded as something exclusively related to Zen. 

The principle of satori is not to rely upon concepts in order to 
reach the truth of things, for concepts are useful in defining the 
truth of things but not in making us personally acquainted with 
it. Conceptual knowledge may make us wise in a way, but this 
is only superficial. It is not the living truth itself, and therefore 
there is no creativeness in it, being a mere accumulation of dead 
matter. Zen in this respect perfectly echoes the spirit of Oriental 




There is truth in saying that the Oriental mind is intuitive 
while the Western mind is logical and discursive. An intuitive 
mind has its weaknesses, it is true, but its strongest point is 
demonstrated when it deals with things most fundamental in 
life, that is, things related to religion, art, and metaphysics. And 
it is Zen that has particularly established this fact — in satori. The 
idea that the ultimate truth of life and of things generally is to 
be intuitively and not conceptually grasped, and that this intui- 
tive prehension is the foundation not only of philosophy but of 
all other cultural activities, is what the Zen form of Buddhism 
has contributed to the cultivation of artistic appreciation among 
the Japanese people.^ 

It is here then that the spiritual relationship between Zen and 
the Japanese conception of art is established. Whatever defini- 
tions are used, the relationship rises from an appreciation of the 
significance of life — or we may say that the mysteries of life 
enter deeply into the composition of art. When an art, therefore, 
presents those mysteries in a most profound and creative manner, 
it moves us to the depths of our being; art then becomes a divine 
work. The greatest productions of art, whether painting, music, 
sculpture, or poetry, have invariably this quality — something ap- 
proaching the work of God. The artist, at the moment when his 

^ “Intuition” has various shades of meaning. Ontologically speaking, its 
most fundamental quality is to come directly in touch with Reality. The hu- 
man mind is generally found to be chock-full of ideas and concepts. When 
a man sees a flower he sees clustered with it all kinds of associated ana- 
lytical thoughts, and it is not the flower in its suchness. It is only when 
prajnd-intuiUon is exercised that “the flower is red and the willow is green.” 
For a detailed exposition of the subject, see my Studies in Zen, under the 
heading “Reason and Intuition in Buddhist Philosophy,” 

Recently, however, I have come to think that “feeling” is a better term 
than “intuition” for the experience Zen claims to have — “feeling” in its deep- 
est, broadest, and most basic sense, and not the “feeling” psychologists gen- 
erally distinguish from other activities of the mind. The experience the hu- 
man mind has when it is identified with the totality of things or when the finite 
becomes conscious of the infinite residing in it — this experience is the most 
primary feeling which lies at the basis of every form of psychic functioning 
we are capable of. An intuition in whatever form or sense still reminds us 
of an intellectual residue. 



creativeness is at its height, is transformed into an agent of the 
creator. This supreme moment in the life of an artist, when ex- 
pressed in Zen terms, is the experience of satori. To experienee 
satori is to become conscious of the Unconscious ( mushin, no- 
mind), psychologically speaking. Art has always something of 
the Unconscious about it. 

The satori experience, therefore, cannot be attained by the 
ordinary means of teaching or learning. It has its own technique 
in pointing to the presence in us of a mystery that is beyond in- 
tellectual analysis. Life is indeed full of mysteries, and wherever 
there is a feeling of the mysterious, we can say there is Zen in 
one sense or another. This is known among the artists as shin-in 
ishen-yiin) or ki-in {ch’i-yiin), spiritual rhythm, the taking 
hold of which constitutes satori. 

Satori thus refuses to be subsumed under any logical category, 
and Zen provides us with a specific method for its realization. 
Conceptual knowledge has its technique, that is, its progressive 
method, whereby one is initiated into it step by step. But this 
does not allow us to come in touch with the mystery of being, the 
significance of life, the beauty of things around us. Without an 
insight into these values it is impossible for one to be master or 
artist of anything. Every art has its mystery, its spiritual rhythm, 
its myd I miao), as the Japanese would call it. As we have seen, 
this is where Zen becomes most intimately related to all branches 
of art. The true artist, like a Zen master, is one who knows how 
to appreciate the myd of things. 

My 5 is sometimes called yh^en iyu-hsiian) or gemmyd 
( hsiian-miao ) in Japanese literature. Some critics state that all 
great works of art embody in them yugen whereby we attain a 
glimpse of things eternal in the world of constant changes: that 
is, we look into the secrets of Reality. Where satori flashes, there 
is the tapping of creative energy; where creative energy is felt, 
art breathes myd and yugen." 

“ Yugen is a compound word, each part, yu and gen, meaning “cloudy 
impenetrability,” and the combination meaning “obscurity,” “unknowability,” 
“mystery,” “beyond intellectual calculability,” but not “utter darkness.” An 




Satori has a specifically Buddhist ring about it, for it is to 
penetrate into the truth of the Buddhist teaching concerning the 
reality of things or the mystery and meaning of life. When satori 
artistically expresses itself, it produces works vibrating with 
“spiritual (or divine) rhythm” {ki-in}, exhibiting mjd (or the 
mysterious), or giving a glimpse into the Unfathomable, which 
is jugen. Zen has thus greatly helped the Japanese to come in 
touch with the presence of the mysteriously creative impulse in 
all branches of art. 


THE MYSTERIOUS is something which cannot be captured 
and made to work by means of intellectual analysis or systemati- 
zation or conscious scheming, and therefore we may conclude 
that satori is to be an act of divine grace, as Christians would 
declare, and the monopoly of an artistic genius. Zen. however, 
has devised a method of its own to realize satori, to bring it 
within the reach of every ordinary mind, and this is where Zen 
is distinguished from other schools of Buddhism. But this Zen 
method is really no method in the usual sense of the word. It is 
sometimes a terribly “brutal” method, for it is unscientific and 

object so designated is not ‘subject to dialectical analysis or to a clear-cut 
definition. It is not at all pre^^entable to our sense-intellect as thi' or that, 
but this does not mean that the object is altogether beyond the reach of 
human experience. In fact, it is experienced by us. and yet we cannot take 
it out into the broad daylight of objective publicity. It is something we feel 
within ourselves, and yet it is an object about which we can talk, it is an 
object of mutual communication only among those who ha\e the feeling of 
it. It is hidden behind the clouds, but not entirely out of sight, for we feel 
its presence, its secret message being transmitted through the darkness how- 
ever impenetrable to the intellect. The feeling is all in all. Cloudiness or ob- 
scurity or indefinability is indeed characteristic of the feeling. But it would 
be a great mistake if we took this cloudiness for something experientially 
valueless or devoid of significance to our daily life. e must remember that 
Reality or the source of all things is to the human understanding an un- 
known quantity, but that we can feel it in a mo-t concrete way. 



A few days after cubs are born to the mother lion, it is said, 
she throws them down the precipice to see if they are self-reliant 
and courageous enough to climb back up all by themselves. If 
they fail, she pays no further attention to them as unworthy 
of her race. Something of the mother lion will be noticed in 
the burglar’s “inhuman” way of teaching his art to his son, so 
that the son can be worthy of the family profession. The story 
was told earlier in this book. The swordsman’s system of train- 
ing was also described there. The principle of Zen methodology 
is this: Whatever art or knowledge a man gets by an external 
means is not his own, does not intrinsically belong to him; it 
is only those things evolved out of his inner being that he can 
claim as truly his own. And his inner being opens up its deep 
secrets only when he has exhausted everything belonging to his 
intellect or his conscious deliberations. It is true that genius is 
born and not made. But it will never be brought out fully unless 
it goes through stages of serious severe disciplining. The Zen 
“genius” sleeps in every one of us and demands an awakening. 
The awakening is satori. 

Generally speaking, satori breaks out when a man is at the 
end of his resources. He feels within himself that something 
remains to complete his mastership of the art, whatever it may 
be. He has nothing to learn as far as the techniques are con- 
cerned, but if he is really dedicated to his chosen field of work 
and sincere to himself, he is sure to have a feeling of uneasiness 
owing to something in his Unconscious, which is now disquiet- 
ingly trying to move out into the open area of consciousness. 
In the case of Zen study as it is carried on nowadays, there 
are the master and the koan confronting the student. In the case 
of artistic disciplines individual experiences may vary, though 
there are a certain number of fixed patterns. 

The following is an example of satori attained by a monk-spear- 




Experts of the H5z6in school use a certain kind of spear that 
was invented by the school’s founder, Inyei (1521-1607), a 
monk of the Hozoin temple belonging to the Kegon sect of Bud- 
dhism. The spear has a crescent-shaped horn branching out at 
about the middle part of the spearhead. The idea of having this 
extra attachment came to the monk, it is said, in the following 
way. It was his habit to train himself in the use of the spear 
in the evening in the temple grounds. What engaged his mind 
most intently on these occasions was not the mastery of the 
technique of spearmanship. for he was already an expert. What 
he wanted was to realize a state of mind in which there was 
perfect unification of Inyei himself and his spear, of man and 
instrument, subject and object, actor and action, thought and 
deed. Such unification is called samadhi isammai in Japanese), 
and its realization was the aim of the spearman-monk in his 
daily exercises. While thrusting his spear in and out, Inyei un- 
expectedly noticed one evening the reflection of a crescent moon 
crossing his glistening spearhead in the pond. This perception 
was the occasion of his breaking through his dualistic conscious- 
ness. Tradition says that after this experience he added the 
crescent form to his spearhead. However this may be, the point 
we make is his fact of realization and not the innovation. 

The experience of the Hozoin priest reminds me of the Bud- [/2, 45-47 
dha’s experience. His Enlightenment took place when he looked 
up early one morning at the morning star. He had been engaged 
in meditation for many years; his intellectual research had given 
him no spiritual satisfaction; he was intensely occupied with 
discovering, if possible, something which went deeper into the 
ground of his personality. Looking at the star made him con- 
scious of that something in himself which he had been in search 
of. He then became the Buddha. 

In the case of Hozoin he penetrated into the secret of using 
the spear and became a meijin of his art. A meijin is a man who 
is more than an expert or a specialist, he is one who has gone 
even beyond the highest degree of proficiency in his art. He is 




a creative genius. Whatever art he may pursue, his original in- 
dividuality marks him out. Such a one is known as meijin in 
Japanese. There is no born meijin, one becomes a meijin only 
after experiencing infinitely painstaking discipline, for only such 
a series of experiences leads to the intuition of the secret depths 
of art, that is, of the lifespring. 

Chiyo (1703-75). the haihu poetess of Kaga. wishing to im- 
prove herself in the art, called upon a noted haiku master of her 
day who happened to visit her town. She was already known 
among her friends as a fine composer of haiku. But she was not 
satisfied with a merely local fame; not only that, what urged 
her to see the traveling poet was the question of her creative 
activity. She wished to know what constituted a genuine haiku, 
a haiku really worth noting as such, a haiku of truly poetic in- 
spiration. He gave her a subject about which she might write 
a haiku poem. It was a conventional one. ’‘the cuckoo.’’ This 
is one of the birds very much liked by the Japanese poets of 
haiku as well as of waka; “ one prominent characteristic of this 
bird is that it sings in the night as it flies, and for this rea- 
son poets find it very difficult to hear it cry or see it fly. One of 
the ivaka poems on the cuckoo reads: 

Nakilsuru kata ivo 

Tada ariake no 
Tsuki zo nokoreru. 

Hearing a cuckoo cry, 

I looked up in the direction 
Whence the sound came: 

What did I see? 

Only the pale moon in the dawning sky.* 

Chiyo now tried several haiku on the subject giv^en by her 
master, but he rejected every one of them as merely conceptual 
and not true to feeling. She did not know what to say, or how to 
express herself more genuinely. One night she went on cogitating 
on the subject so intently she did not notice at all that it was al- 

A u'at:a or uta consists of thirty-one syllables (5-^7-f5 + 74-7) and is 
longer tlian a haiku (which ha- -erenteen: .1 7 + .7 ( . Therefore, the poet can 

put more object- or thought- in it. 

'* 1 do not attempt to preserve the syllable count in the translations, but 
to approximate it. 



ready dawning and that the paper screens had begun to 
light up faintly, when the following haiku formed itself in her 

Hototogisu, Calling “cuckoo” “cuckoo” 

Hototogisu tote. All night long, 

Akenikeri! Datcn at last! 

When this was shown to the master, he at once accepted it as 
one of the finest haiku ever composed on the cuckoo. The reason 
was that the haiku truly communicated the author’s genuine inner 
feeling about the hototogisu and that there was no artificial or 
intellectually calculated scheme for any kind of effect; that is to 
say, there was no “ego” on the part of the author aiming at its 
own glorification. Haiku, like Zen, abhors egoism in any form 
of assertion. The product of art must be entirely devoid of artifice 
or ulterior motive of any kind. There ought not to be any pres- 
ence of a mediatory agent between the artistic inspiration and the 
mind into which it has come. The author is to be an altogether 
passive instrument for giving an expression to the inspiration. 
The inspiration is like Chuang-tzu’s “heavenly music” I t’ien-lai ) . 
The artists are to listen to the heavenly music and not to the 
human. And when it comes upon one, let him be a sort of autom- 
aton with no human interference. Let the Unconscious work it- 
self out, for the Unconscious is the realm where artistic impulses 
are securely kept away from our superficial utilitarian life. Zen 
also lives here, and this is where Zen is of great help to artists of 
all kinds. 

Chiyo’s all-night meditation on the hototogisu helped to open 
up her Unconscious. What she used to do before this experience 
was to contemplate the subject she would use in composing a 
haiku, and for this reason whatever haiku she produced was al- 
ways tinged with a certain amount of artificiality or mere clever- 
ness that had really nothing to do with poetry in its proper 
sense. Chiyo for the first time realized that a haiku, as long as it is 
a work of poetical creativity, ought to be an expression of one’s 
inner feeling altogether devoid of the sense of ego. The haiku 



poet in this sense must also be a Zen-man. The poet’s satori is an 
artistic one, so to speak, while the Zen-man’s grows out of a 
metaphysical background. The former may be said to be partial, 
while the latter covers the totality of one’s being. The artistic 
satori may not penetrate the artist’s entire personality, for it 
may not go any further than what I feel like calling the artistic 
aspect of the Unconscious. 

Whatever aspects of the Unconscious there may be, they can 
never be tapped unless one experiences samadhi or sammai, which 
is the state of one-pointedness (ekdgratd) , that is, of concentra- 
tion. And this state is realized only when the artist, with his 
knowledge of all the technicality, is still sincerely and loyally 
looking for a complete mastery of the art. Without sincerity and 
loyalty no artist can claim to be original and creative. It is sin- 
cerity and loyalty or whole-hearted devotion that enables him to 
reach the highest rung of the ladder, for mere “genius” will 
never accomplish anything in the way of developing all of his 
being. Every one of us, however ordinary he may be, has some- 
thing in him, in his Unconscious, that is hidden away from 
the superficial level of consciousness. To awaken it, to make it 
work out things of great value to our human world, we must 
exert ourselves to the utmost and thoroughly purge ourselves of 
all our selfish interests. To reach the bedrock of one’s being 
means to have one’s Unconscious entirely cleansed of egoism, 
for the ego penetrates even the Unconscious so called. Not the 
“Collective Unconscious” but the “Cosmic Unconscious” must be 
made to reveal itself unreservedly. This is why Zen so empha- 
sizes the significance of “no-mind” [mushin) or “no-thought” 
(munen), where we find infinite treasures well preserved. 


BEFORE we proceed, I must tell you more of what a haiku is. 
It is the shortest form of poem we can find in world literature. 




It consists of seventeen syllables into which have been cast some 
of the highest feelings human beings are capable of. Some 
readers may, perhaps reasonably, wonder how such a short 
string of words could express any deep stirrings of the mind. 
Did not Milton write Paradise Lost? Did not even Wordsworth 
write "‘Intimations of Immortality"’? But we must remember 
that “God” simply uttered, “Let there be light,” and when the 
work was finished, he again simply remarked that the light was 
“good.” And this was the way, we are told, that the world started, 
this world in which all kinds of dramatic events have been going 
on ever since it made its debut in such a simple style. “God” 
did not use even as many syllables as ten and his work was suc- 
cessfully carried out. When Moses asked God by what name he 
would transmit God’s message to his people. God said, “My 
name is ‘I am who I am,’ ” or “the God who is.” And is this not 
the grandest utterance one can make in this world? Do not say 
that it was God and not Man who uttered these words. But I 
would say, it is Man and not God who recorded all these sayings 
of God’s. The recorder is “I am who 1 am” and not the utterer, 
because the utterer belongs to the past, to the limbo of history. 
But the recorder is here forever. It is he, indeed, and no other, 
who is “I am who I am.” In any event, the shortness of a haiku 
in the number of syllables has nothing to do with the significance 
of the content. At the supreme moment of life and death we 
just utter a cry or take to action, we never argue, we never 
give ourselves up to a lengthy talk. Feelings refuse to be con- 
ceptually dealt with, and a haiku is not the produet of intellec- 
tion. Hence its brevity and significance. 

Let me give you a specimen or two of haiku. Basho ( 1643—94 ) , 
founder of the modern school of haiku, has this, which is said 
to have been the start of his revolutionary movement: 

Furu ike ya! 

Kawazu tobikomu. 

Mi zu no oto. 


The old pond, ah! 
A frog jumps in: 
The ivateds sound! 



Nothing can be shorter than this, but some of us may ask, “Is 
this really poetry? Does it say anything that appeals to the depth 
of our being really worth communication? What have ‘an old 
pond,’ ‘a jumping frog,’ and ‘the water’s splash’ to do with any 
poetic inspiration?” 

To quote Dr. R. H. Blyth, an authority on the study of haiku: 
“A haiku is the expression of a temporary enlightenment, in 
which we see into the life of things.” Whether “temporary” or 
not, Basho gives in his seventeen syllables a signifieant intuition 
into Reality. 

Dr. Blyth continues: “Each thing is preaching the law 
[Dharma] incessantly, but this law is not something different 
from the thing itself. Haiku is the revealing of this preaching 
by presenting us with the thing devoid of all our mental twisting 
and emotional discoloration; or rather, it shows the thing as it 
exists at one and the same time outside and inside the mind, 
perfectly subjective, ourselves undivided from the object, the ob- 
ject in its original unity with ourselves. ... It is a way of re- 
turning to nature, to our moon nature, our cherry-blossom nature, 
our falling leaf nature, in short, to our Buddha nature. It is a way 
in which the cold w inter rain, the swallows of evening, even the 
very day in its hotness and the length of the night become truly 
alive, share in our humanity, speak their own silent and ex- 
pressive language.” ^ 

What Dr. Blyth calls the moon nature, the cherry-blossom 
nature, etc., are no more than the suchness of things. In Christian 
terms, it is to see God in an angel as angel, to see God in a 
flea as flea. Basho discovered this in the sound of the water as 
a frog jumped into the old pond. This sound coming out of the 
old pond was heard by Basho as filling the entire universe. Not 
only was the totality of the environment absorbed in the sound 
and vanished into it, but Basho himself was altogether effaced 
from his consciousness. Both the subject and the object, en-soi 
and pour-soi, ceased to be something confronting and condi- 

“ Haiku, I, pp. 270 ff. 



tioning each other. And yet this could not he a state of absolute 
annihilation. Basho was there, the old pond was there, with all 
the rest. But Bash5 was no more the old Basho. He was “resur- 
rected.” He was “the Sound” or “the Word” that was even be- 
fore heaven and earth were separated. He now experienced the 
mystery of being-becoming and becoming-being. The old pond 
was no more, nor was the frog a frog. They appeared to him 
now enveloped in the veil of mystery which was no veil of mys- 
tery. When he wished to communicate it to others, he could not 
avoid this paradox, but within himself everything was trans- 
parent, and no clouds of ambiguity enveloped him. Haiku and 
Zen, however, are not to be confused. Haiku is haiku and Zen is 
Zen. Haiku has its own field, it is poetry, but it also partakes 
of something of Zen, at the point where a haiku gets related 
to Zen. 

Let me give a fine example of this relationship between a 
haiku and Zen. Bashfi’s “the old pond” may be interpreted as 
having almost too much of Zen in it, but the following expresses 
an exquisite interfusion of Zen and haiku and humanism charac- 
teristic of the author’s personality. When Basho was traveling 
on “the Narrow Road of Oku,” he happened to meet two prosti- 
tutes on their way to the Ise Shrine, and they all stayed in 
the same inn. After listening to their tale of a w'retched life 
which they abhorred, Basho had his haiku: 

Hitotsu ya ni Under one roof, 

Yujo mo netari. Prostitutes, too, were sleeping; 

Hagi to tsuki. The hagi'^ flowers and the moon. 

It requires a great deal of interpretation to make the full meaning 
of this haiku clear to those readers who are not well acquainted 
with the Japanese social conditions of the seventeenth century 
and who also are ignorant of the flowering bush clovers in 

'' The bush clover (Lespedeza striata) blooms in early autumn and is 
liked very much by the Japanese people, especially by haiku and waka 



brightly shining autumn moonlight. Only let me say this much: 
Here is a solitary wandering poet with something of Zen aloof- 
ness; he meets prostitutes bound for Ise, where they are plan- 
ning to worship at the shrine dedicated to the ancestral spirits 
of the Japanese race; he listens to their story of miseries and 
woes and karmic retributions; the poet is in full sympathy with 
them but does not know what to do in the condition in which 
all are situated; human iniquities, moral indignation, individual 
helplessness. With all this, Basho is a nature poet. He sets the 
prostitutes as well as himself together with the bush clovers and 
the moon in the nature frame of transcendentalism. And the 
outcome is the seventeen-syllable haiku: 

Under one roof. 

Prostitutes, too, were sleeping; 

The bush clovers and the moon. 

The prostitutes are no more fallen specimens of humanity, 
they are raised to the transcendentally poetic level with the 
lespedeza flowers in their unpretentious beauty while the moon 
impartially illuminates good and bad, comely and ugly. There 
is no conceptualization here, and yet the haiku reveals the 
mystery of being-becoming. 

Before Basho, the haiku men indulged in word play which 
incited him to raise the dignity of haiku to a higher level. In 
many ways haiku may be said to reflect the Japanese character. 
First of all, the Japanese are not given to verbosity; they are 
not argumentative, they shun intellectual abstractions. They are 
more intuitional and wish to give out facts as facts without much 
comment, emotional as well as conceptual. What is known as 
Kami nagara no michi "" is their credo; “to leave things to the 
will of the gods” and not to interfere with them with human 
scheming coincides well with the Buddhist teaching of suchness 
[tathatd), which is, in colloquial Japanese, sono-mama. Sono- 
mama (or kono-mama) is the ultimate reality itself; we hu- 

®* See History of Philosophy Eastern and Western, ed. S. Radhakrishnan 
and others, I, 596 ff. (ch. XX\ : “Japanese thought”). 



mans, however fiercely or desperately we may strive or struggle, 
can never go beyond this. All that we can do then is to write 
a haiku appreciating the fact, without asking why or how. This 
we may say is a kind of resignation. But the Japanese do not 
grumble, nor do they curse as most Western peoples do; they 
just accept cheerfully and with humor. 


PERHAPS one most egregiously Japanese characteristic is to 
take notice of the small things of nature and tenderly take care of 
them. Instead of talking about great ideals or highly abstract 
thoughts, they cultivate chrysanthemums or morning-glories, and 
when the season comes they delight to see them bloom beauti- 
fully as they planned. If I enumerate the following subjects 
among many others taken up by the haiku poets for their cher- 
ished seventeen syllables, the readers may be tempted to look at 
them as not at all worthy of the dignified profession of poet. I 
wonder if the Western mind has ever come to be moved poeti- 
cally by such insignificant creatures as the following? 

( J ) A tree frog on a banana leaf: 

Amagaeru A little frog 

Basho ni norite. Riding on a banana leaf, 

Soyogi keri. T rem bling. 

Whatever Kikaku (1660—1707),’ the author of this haiku, 
wished to depict here, I see first of all a broad expanding ba- 
nana leaf perfectly green in color and vividly fresh about the 
time of year when the tree frog begins to jump around in the 
garden. It is spring, and it is probable that the frog has just 
come out of its shelter after a rainfall, though the frog family 
likes to be drenched in it. It now finds itself riding toward the 

One of the “Ten Disciples” of Basho. 



end of the leaf, which quivers under the weight of the little 
creature. The leaf is broad and strong enough to support the 
frog if the latter sits near the stem. The “riding” and “trembling” 
or “quivering,” however, suggest a movement in a quiet spring 
garden where things are all green in a variety of shades, and it 
brings out the contrast between the greenness of the frog and 
that of the banana leaf. 

(2) A monkey soaked in rain: 

Hatsu shigure. First winter rain: 

Sara mo komino wo The monkey also seems to wish 

Hoshige nari. For a little straw cloak. 

In his traveling through the mountain paths, Basho must have 
observed a little monkey sitting on a branch thoroughly wet 
with the cold rain. The pitiful sight moved Basho’s tender 
heart, but I like to feel here something deeper than mere senti- 
mentalism. A poet of loneliness, though he himself is somewhat 
like the monkey wishing for a rain cloak, has full appreciation 
for the approach of the dreary chilly winter foretold by the 
drenching showers. According to Chinese philosophy, winter sym- 
bolizes the limit of the feminine principle when the universe, 
shorn of all its outward showiness, holds within itself all the 
creativity needed for the coming season. “A solitary traveler” 
who is Basho feels something of himself in the approaching 
winter. This is a life of eternal longing. 

( 3 ) A “most inarticulate object” ® such as a nameless insig- 
nificant plant in bloom: 

Kusa mura ja: 
Na mo shiranu, 
Shiroku saku. 

Among the grasses. 
An unknown flower 
Blooming white. 

Dr. Blyth in his Haiku, I, p. 289. 



This is by Shiki (1869—1902), one of the most modern haiku 
poets. While Shiki is not a blind follower of Basho and often 
depreciates Basho as too much of a subjectivist, this haiku on 
a white-flowering plant has something similar to Basho’s on the 
nazuna herb. Though Shiki makes no reference to “a careful 
observation” (yoku mireba) as Basho does, which may be said 
to be Basho’s subjectivism, Shiki’s verse practically echoes 
Basho’s “sentimentalism,” if this term is applicable to the spirit- 
uality of “the flower in the crannied wall” or of the Biblical 
“lilies of the field.” “Na mo shiranu” means “the name un- 
known,” “insignificant,” “humble,” and “being ready to feed 
the oven tomorrow.” This is really an epithet we have to give to 
everything, great and small, existing in its own right, for it is a 
nothing, of no value whatever, until it stands connected with 
the totality of being — -embraced in the divine grace, as Chris- 
tians would say. Basho observed his nazuna by the wild hedge 
in this light.° and I would like to see Shiki, too, observing “the 
white-blooming plant” among the grasses in the same light. 

(4) The octopus in a jar: 

Tako tsubo ni The octopuses in the jars: 

Hakanaki yume ivo Transient dreams, 

Natsu no tsuki. The summer moon. 

I understand the fisherman sinks a jar into the sea, and the 
octopus, thinking it a fine shelter, gets into it. While it is sleeping 
there and perhaps enjoying an innocent dream, the crafty fisher- 
man pulls up the jar together with its occupant or occupants, as 
the case may be. This is what we call human intelligence, by 
which we not only keep ourselves alive but to a greater or lesser 
extent destroy one another as intelligence grows up to “sys- 
tematized knowledge.” As to the poor octopuses entrapped, we 
think, they go on dreaming a “transient dream” under the 
® See below, p. 263. 



summer moon. But who would not say that men are of superior 
intelligence when they go on devising all sorts of “wonderful” 
weapons of mutual annihilation? Who would not call this “dream- 
ing a transient dream under the summer moon,” or in fact 
anywhere? ‘'Haka naki” means not only “transient,” but “vain,” 
“inane,” "futile,” “useless,” and it is not only the octopus snugly 
dreaming in the fisherman’s jar, but every one of us including 
the fisherman himself keeps on dreaming idle vain dreams. If 
not for the moon of suchness, of any season, summer or winter, 
our existence here on earth could not be anything but “vanity 
of vanities.” As Ecclesiastes cries, “What profit hath a man of 
all his labor which he taketh under the sun?” 

(5) A firefly flying flickeringly: 

6-hotaru, A huge firefly, 

Yurari-yurari to, W averingly. 

Tori keri. Passes by. 

Yurari-yurari to is the original Japanese for “waveringly,” which 
is Dr. Blytli’s translation. I do not know whether or not this is 
a happy English word for yurari-yurari to. The word is one of 
those reduplicatives which appeal more to the feeling than to 
the intellect and therefore are not convertible into abstract con- 
ceptual terms. Both the Chinese and the Japanese languages 
abound with these reduplicatives, showing that the people who 
use these languages are not so used to the abstract way of 
thinking as are most of the Western peoples, and also that the 
Easterners live closer to the pristine experiences of reality 
than those peoples who have highly developed their systems of 
analysis and abstraction. Probably there is no one English word 
equivalent to yurari-yurari to: “waveringly,” “unsteadily,” “un- 
reliably,” “discontinuously,” “fluctuatingly,” “vibratingly,” “un- 
quietly,” etc. are all conceptual, whereas yurari-yurari to, no 
doubt describing a discontinuous movement, is very much more 



than that; it suggests feelings of freedom, unconcernedness, dig- 
nity, not being hurried by anything external, leisurely taking 
one’s own time. When these feelings are combined with the verb 
of action, tori keri, the firefly, not a small one but a huge 
one, reminds us of a person living a life of freedom, fearless- 
ness, and individual dignity, with an air of aloofness and tran- 
scendentalism. A firefly passing on through the air is not at- 
tached to the ground and its sordidness. Issa (1763—1827), the 
author of this haiku, is said to have spent some months re- 
vising it before he could settle on the present form, though it 
looks as spontaneous as if it were a work of instant inspiration. 

Let me add, in this conneetion, a word about the liberal use 
of reduplicatives and other adverbial expressions of a similar 
nature, which give a great advantage to the Chinese and the 
Japanese languages in communicating a certain type of ex- 
perience. When they are translated into conceptual and intellec- 
tually well-defined terms these expressions lose their rich per- 
sonal flavor and imaginative depth, their beguiling vagueness. 
This will readily be understood when we compare the Chinese 
originals, for instance, of Lao-tzu’s or Chuang-tzu's descriptions 
of the Tao-man, with the English versions “ of the same. How 

There are a number of English translations of Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching, 
and Arthur Waley’s is one of the best, I think. The following is culled from 
his version of Chapter XX, where the ideal man. ‘'Tao-man," is described in 
the first person. “. . . All men. indeed, are wreathed in smiles ihsi-hsi). . . . 
I droop and drift [ch’eng-ch’eng) as though I belonged nowhere. . . . Mine 
is indeed the mind of a very idiot, so dull i tun-tun) am I. . . . They look 
lively and self-assured )ch'a-ch'a) : I alone, depressed {men-men). I seem 
unsettled (tan-hsi) as the ocean; Blown adrift (liao-hsi), nc\er brought to a 
stop.” The italicized English phrases are eqiii\alents for the Chinese given in 

Actually, the Chinese language ought never to be expressed other than in its 
ideograms. The Chinese mentality is so intimately ingrained in those rather 
clumsy -looking, hut to my mind most expressi\e, sign-words. The Chinese 
thoughts and feelings and these ideograms are inseparable. For a practical 
purpose here, we have the sounds romanizcd. As to the original characters, 
the reader is referred to the Index. Incidentally I wish to remark that the 
English translator has not interpreted the last two lines properly. Lao-tzu’s 
idea is: “I am serene as the ocean, I am mobile as the wind.” 



prosaic, uninteresting, and impersonal the latter read! The Ori- 
ental peoples are sometimes said to be deficient in the power 
of philosophical thinking and analytical preciseness. Perhaps 
they are, but they have a richer store of the experience of 
reality itself, which refuses to be so sharply defined that ‘"yes” 
can never be “no” and “no” “yes.” Nowadays, I am told, the 
physicists are trying to use the concept of complementarity, see- 
ing that one theory in exclusion of an antagonistic one does 
not explain everything. Life goes on whether or not we logically 
comprehend and mechanically control it. Though this does not 
mean that we are to give up all such attempts, it is best to recog- 
nize that there is something in life whose mystery goes beyond 
our intellectual prehension. The yurari-yurari way of a huge 
firefly passing before my window contains in it all that defies our 
relativistic scrutiny. 

(6) Fallen leaves under the water; 

Mizu soko no Under the ivater, 

Itva ni ochitsuku On the rock resting, 

Kono ha kana. The fallen leaves. 

This is by Joso (1661-1704), one of the chief disciples of Bash5. 
Superficially and ordinarily, most of us are liable to think noth- 
ing of the fallen leaves of autumn finding their final resting 
place on the rocks in the stream. They are now all discolored, 
showing none of the yellowish or reddish tinge they had while 
on the trees, but after being hurled up and down, here and 
there, in the corners of the garden, or upon the roofs of the 
house, they are finally settled under the water and safely over 
the rocks. Perhaps some further fate may be waiting for them, 
but as far as the poet sees they are quietly resting as if this 
were their final place. He does not venture to think of anything 
beyond. He just sees them there and gives no intimation as 
to what he has in his mind. It is this very silence of the poet 
that makes the verse all the more eloquent. We also stop here 




with the poet, yet we feel that there is something much more 
than we can expressly utter. This is where the haiku is at its 
best. Dr. Blyth sees here the suchness of things. 1 should like 
to see the mystery of being. 

(7) Lice and fleas and the stable: 

Nomi shirami. Fleas, lice. 

Lima no nyo suru The horse pissing 

Makuramoto. Near my pillow. 

A strange combination of things. If they are suggestive of any- 
thing, it is something disgusting, utterly annoying, repugnant. 
What else could Basho feel in those circumstances? Is there 
anything at all evocative of poetic feelings? This will be what 
we would like to know. 

The haiku has a prelude: Basho happened to stop at a mis- 
erable shed in the mountains while traveling along ‘’the narrow 
road of Oku.” It rained continuously for three days. The poor 
lonely traveler had nothing else to do but to stay patiently at the 
stable. He was. however, a poet. Let me quote what Dr. Blyth 
has to comment about the situation and the poet; it is really 
illuminating, showing how much of the haiku spirit the com- 
mentator has imbibed. 

“Basho’s verse is to be read with the utmost composure of 
mind. If there is any feeling of disgust and repugnance as a 
predominating element of the mind, Basho’s intention is misun- 
derstood. Fleas are irritating, lice are nasty things, a horse pissing 
close to where one is lying gives one all kinds of disagreeable 
feelings. But in and through all this, there is to be a feeling of 
the whole, in which urine and champagne, lice and butterflies 
take their appointed and necessary place. 

“This of course is not Basho’s meaning; this was certainly his 
experience, but we are concerned with his poetical experience, 
which is a different thing and yet somehow the same thing. 
Sometimes, not by any means always, the simple, elemental 


experiences of things, whether of lice or of butterflies, the pissing 
of horses or the flight of eagles, have a deep significance, not 
of something beyond themselves, but of their own essential na- 
ture. But we must lodge with these things for a night, for a day, 
for three days. We must be cold and hungry, flea-ridden and 
lonely, companions of sorrow and acquainted with grief. Basho’s 
verse is not an expression of complaint or disgust, though he 
certainly felt irritation and discomfort. It is not an expression 
of philosophic indifference nor an impossible love of lice and 
dirt and sleeplessness. What is it an expression of? It is the 
feeling ‘These things too. . . .’ But anyone who tries to finish 
this sentence does not understand what Bashd meant.” 

These are a few of the subjects that have occupied the haiku 
poets of Japan. The moon and the sun. storms and waves, moun- 
tains and rivers — so-called bigger aspects of Nature — will also 
engage their attention, but what I wish to emphasize here is the 
Japanese sensitivity for the small things of Nature generally 
neglected by people of the West, and the fact that these insignifi- 
cant and ignoble creatures are in intimate relationship with 
the grand totality of the cosmic scheme. Japanese mysticism 
will not leave them out as too mean for human or, for that 
matter, divine consideration. This is more than delicate feminine 
sentimentalism. And it is where Zen comes in and becomes as- 
sociated with haiku. 


Furu ike ya! The old pond, ah! 

Kawazu tobikomu, A frog jumps in: 

Mizu no oto. The uaters sound! 

T H I S is said to have been the first revolutionary alarm given by 
'4S] Basho to the haiku world of seventeenth-century Japan. Before 
"'■''Haiku. Ill, pp. 193-95. 

litre btands fur the Japanese ya. Ya is frequently an important 
particle in the composition of a hadm when the emphasis of the whole haiku 




him, haiku had been mere plays on words with nothing deeper 
than pleasantry, and it was Basho who gave them a new start by 
this utterance on the “old pond.” The story as to how he came 
to compose it goes this way: 

When Basho was studying Zen under his master Buccho, 
Buccho one day paid him a visit and asked, “How are you getting 
on these days?” 

Bash5 said, “After the recent rain the moss has grown greener 
than ever.” 

Buccho shot a second arrow to see the depths of Basho’s under- 
standing of Zen, “What Buddhism is there even before the 
moss has grown greener?” 

This question is tantamount to Christ saying, “I am even 
before Abraham was.” The Zen master wants to know who 
this “I” is. With Christians probably the mere assertion, 
“I am,” was enough, but in Zen the question must be asked 
and a more concrete answer must be forthcoming. For this is 
an essential part of Zen intuition. So Buccho asked, hat is 

there even before the world came into existence?” That is to 
say, “Where is God even before he uttered, ‘Let there be light'?” 
Buccho the Zen master is not just talking about the recent rain- 
fall and the green moss growing fresher; what he wants to know 
about is the cosmic landscape prior to the creation of all things. 
When is timeless time? Is it no more than an empty concept? 
If it is not, we must be able to describe it somehow for others. 
Basho’s answer was, “A frog jumps into the water, and hear the 

Basho’s answer at the time it was uttered did not have the 
first line, “the old pond,” which, it is reported, he added later 
on to make a complete haiku of seventeen syllables. We may ask 
now: Where is that something revolutionary in it which marked 
the beginning of modern haiku poetry? It is Basho’s insight into 

turns on this one particle. But in the present haiku by Basho the ya does 
not play such a very weighty role as it does in some other cases, for in- 
stance, in Chiyo’s “Asagao ya!'’ “The old pond” here is used to indicate the 
place where “the sound” has been produced. For r\hat is most significant in 
Basho's haiku here is “the sound” itself, as I try to explain in the text. 


the nature of life itself, or into the life of Nature, which forms 
the background of his verse. He really penetrated into the depths 
of the whole creation, and what he saw there came out as depicted 
in his haiku on the old pond. 

Let me try to give a little more intelligible account of Basho 
whereby we, with our prosaic too-modern minds, may under- 
stand him. Most of us are liable to interpret the haiku on the 
old pond as describing a scene of solitude or tranquillity. Ac- 
cording to them, the following is the line of imagination they 
would pursue: “An ancient pond is likely to be located in some 
old temple grounds, filled with many stately trees. Around the 
pond also there are odd-looking shrubs and bushes with out- 
stretching branches and thickly-grown leaves. Such surroundings 
add to the tranquillity of the unrippled surface of the pond. When 
this is disturbed by a jumping frog, the disturbance itself en- 
hances the reigning tranquillity; the sound of the splash rever- 
berates, and the reverberation makes us all the more conscious 
of the serenity of the whole. However, this consciousness is 
awakened only in him whose spirit is really in consonance 
with the world spirit itself. It took Basho. the truly great haiku 
poet, to give voice to this intuition or inspiration.” 

Let me repeat. To understand Zen as a gospel of quietism is 
not at all in the right, nor is it the way to interpret Basho’s 
haiku, for it is far from being an appreciation of tranquillity. A 
double mistake is thus committed. As regards Zen, I have had 
occasion to give my views in my several books on the subject 
and will confine myself here to the correct interpretation of 
Basho. First of all, we must know that a haiku does not express 
ideas but that it puts forward images reflecting intuitions. These 
images are not figurative representations made use of by the poetic 
mind, but they directly point to original intuitions, indeed, 
they are intuitions themselves. When the latter are attained, 
the images become transparent and are immediate expres- 
sions of the experience. An intuition in itself, being too inti- 
mate, too personal, too immediate, cannot be communicated to 




Others; to do this it calls up images hy means of which it be- 
comes transferable. But to those who have never had such an ex- 
perience it is difficult, even impossible, to reach the fact itself 
merely through images, because in this case images are trans- 
formed into ideas or concepts, and the mind then attempts to give 
them an intellectual interpretation, as some critics do with Basho’s 
haiku on the old pond. Such an attempt altogether destroys the 
inner truth and beauty of the haiku. 

As long as we are moving on the surface of consciousness, 
we can never get away from ratiocination; the old pond is under- 
stood as symbolizing solitude and tranquillity, and a frog jumping 
into it and the sound thereof are taken for instruments whereby 
to set off and also to increase the general sense of eternal quiet- 
ness. But Basho the poet is not living there as we are. he has 
passed through the outer crust of consciousness away down 
into its deepest recesses, into a realm of the unthinkable, into 
the Unconscious, which is even beyond the unconscious generally 
conceived by the psychologists. Basho’s old pond lies on the other 
side of eternity, where timeless time is. It is so "old,” indeed, 
that there is nothing more ancient. No scale of consciousness 
can measure it. It is whence all things come, it is the source 
of this world of particulars, yet in itself it shows no particulariza- 
tion. We come to it when we go beyond the “rainfall” and “the 
moss growing greener.” But when this is intellectually conceived, 
it becomes an idea and begins to have an existence outside this 
world of particulars, thus making itself an object of intellection. 
It is by intuition alone that this timelessness of the Unconscious 
is truly taken hold of. And this intuitive grasp of Reality never 
takes place when a world of Emptiness is assumed outside our 
everyday world of the senses: for these two worlds, sensual 
and supersensual, are not separate but one. Therefore, the poet 
sees into his Unconscious not through the stillness of the old 
pond but through the sound stirred up by the jumping frog. 
Without the sound there is no seeing on the part of Basho into 
tlie Unconscious, in which lies the source of creative activities 



and upon which all true artists draw for their inspiration. It is 
difficult to describe this moment of consciousness where polariza- 
tion ceases or rather starts, for these contradictory terms are 
applicable there without causing logical inconvenience. It is the 
poet or the religious genius who actually has this kind of ex- 
perience. And, according to the way this experience is handled, 
it becomes in one case Basho’s haiku and in the other a Zen 

The human mind can be considered to be made up, as it were, 
of several layers of consciousness, from a dualistically con- 
structed consciousness down to the Unconscious. The first layer 
is where we generally move; everything here is dualistically set 
up, polarization is the principle of this stratum. The next layer 
below is the semiconscious plane; things deposited here can be 
brought up to full consciousness any time they are wanted; 
it is the stratum of memory. The third layer is the Unconscious, 
as it is ordinarily termed by the psychologist; memories lost 
since time immemorial are stored up here; they are awakened 
wdien there is a general mental upheaval; memories buried 
nobody knows how' long ago are brought out to the surface when 
a catastrophe takes place designedly or accidentally. This un- 
conscious layer of the mind is not the last layer; there is still 
another which is really the bedrock of our personality, and may 
be called “collective unconscious,” corresponding somewhat to 
the Buddhist idea of alayavijhana, that is, “the all-conserving 
consciousness.” The existence of this vijhdna or unconscious 
may not be experimentally demonstrated, but the assumption of 
it is necessary to explain the general fact of consciousness. 

Psychologically speaking, this dlayavijhdna or “collective un- 
conscious” may be regarded as the basis of our mental life; 
but when we wish to open up the secrets of the artistic or re- 
ligious life, we must have what may be designated “Cosmic Un- 
conscious.” The Cosmic Unconscious is the principle of creativity, 
God’s workshop where is deposited the moving force of the 
universe. All creative works of art, the lives and aspirations of 



religious people, the spirit of inquiry moving the philosophers 
— all these come from the fountainhead of the Cosmic Uncon- 
scious, which is really the store-house (dlaya) of possibilities. 

Basho came across this Unconscious, and his experience was 
given an expressive utterance in his haiku. The haiku is not just 
singing of a tranquillity imagined to be underneath the super- 
ficial tumult of the worldly life. His utterance points to something 
further below, which is at the same time something we encounter 
in this world of pluralities, and it is on account of this some- 
thing that our world gains its value and meaning. Without reckon- 
ing on the Cosmic Unconscious, our life, lived in the realm of 
relativities, loses its moorings altogether. 

We now can understand why it is not necessary for the Japa- 
nese haiku to be long and elaborate and intellectual. It avoids 
an ideational or conceptual construction. When it appeals to 
ideas, its direct pointing to the Unconscious is warped, marred, 
interrupted, its refreshing vitality forever gone. Therefore, the 
haiku attempts to offer the most appropriate images in order to 
make us recall the original intuition as vividly as possible. The 
images thus held up and arranged in a haiku may not be at all 
intelligible to those whose minds ha%'e not been fully trained to 
read the meaning conveyed therein. As in the case of Basho’s 
haiku, what can most people who are not educated to appreciate 
a haiku generally see in the enumeration of such familiar objects 
as an old pond, a jumping frog, and the sound resulting there- 
from? It is true that these objects are not merely enumerated; 
there are also an exclamatory particle ya and a verb of motion 
tobikornu. But I am afraid that the uninitiated may not be able 
to recognize anything poetically enlivening in those seventeen 
syllables so loosely strung. And yet what a deep truth of intui- 
tion is herein given utterance — a truth which cannot be expressed 
so inspiringly even with a formidable array of ideas! 

The religious intuitions are usually communicated in simple 
terms; they are direct, straightforward utterances without equivo- 
cation, though in Zen we find a great number of poetical quota- 



tions, including haiku. But as soon as they are subjected to in- 
tellectual analysis, the philosophers and theologians have to vie 
with one another in writing volume after volume on the subject. 
In a similar manner, the poetical intuitions and aspirations that 
move the haiku poet may easily be occasions for longer and 
more elaborate pieces of poetry when they are delivered into 
the hands of another type of poet. As far as original inspiration 
is concerned, Basho is just as great a poet as any of the West. 
The number of syllables has nothing to do with the true quality 
of the poet. The instrument made use of by poets, which is 
quite aecidental, may vary, but we judge things as well as people 
not by what is accidental but by what essentially constitutes them. 

By way of a postscript, I wish to add Sengai’s characteristic 
i3, 50. 51, comment on Basho and his frog. Sengai 11750-1837) was the 

58, 63] abbot of Shofukuji in Hakata, Kyushu. He was not only a fine 

Zen master but a painter, calligrapher, and poet, full of humor 
and wit, and was loved by people of all classes, men and women, 
young and old. He once painted a picture of a banana plant 
and a frog crouching under it. Basho is banana plant in Japa- 
nese and the poet’s nom de plume “Basho” comes from it. Sengai 
now writes over the picture a haiku — so to speak, a frog’s solil- 

Ike araba, If there were a pond [around here], 

Tonde basho ni I would jump in, and let Basho 

Kikasetai. Hear [the plop ] ! 


Asagao ya! Ah! Morning-glory! 

Tsurube torarete The bucket taken captive! 

Morai mizu. I begged for water. 

THIS is the haiku composed by the poetess Chiyo of Kaga 
(1703-75), the author of a haiku on the cuckoo.^^ Basho’s frog 
^ See above, p. 224. 



produced a sound by jumping into the old pond, and this gave 
him a chance to commune with the spirit of the old pond — the 
pond as old as Eternity itself. In Chiyo’s case, it was the morning- 
glory that acquainted her with the spirit of beauty. 

An explanation is needed here, I believe, to show the con- 
nection between morning-glory and bucket and water-begging. 
In olden days, a well supplying water for daily household use 
was generally situated outside the house, especially in the coun- 
tryside. The water was drawn up by means of a bucket at- 
tached to a certain device we know as a shadoof. “ One late 
summer morning, Chiyo the poetess found the bucket entwined 
by the morning-glory vine, which bore a flower. She was so 
deeply struck hy its beauty that she forgot her mission for some 
little while. When she recovered, she thought of the water she 
wanted for her morning work, probably in the kitchen. She had 
no idea of disturbing the flower, and so she went to her neighbor. 
This is one of the simple incidents in our daily life that might 
take place any late-summer morning anywhere. 

Some may say there is no poetry in it, and would argue in this 
way: As to the morning-glory, it is such a common flower in 
Japan and especially in the countryside, where no particular care 
is taken of the plant, that the flowers can be nothing but most 
ordinary, and there is nothing in them which would evoke a poet’s 
admiration. As to going to the neighbor for water, it is quite 
stupid of Chiyo. Why did she not unwind or cut the vine and re- 
lease the bucket? It is the easiest thing in the world. And then 
as to composing a haiku on this most prosaic event, how could 
one extract anything romantic from it? There is nothing extra- 
ordinary here worth even seventeen syllables. 

In answer to this matter-of-fact interpretation of Chiyo’s haiku 
on the morning-glory I would say: To the prosaic, everything 
is prosaic and practical. They forget the fact, or they are unable 

This contrivance was already in use in ancient China at the time of 
Chuang-tzu (c. 369-286 B.c.). It is still used in some parts of Japan as well 
as in Egypt, whence its name, as the dictionary tells us. 



to appreciate it, that when one is in a certain mood — I would 
say, a certain divine mood — even the most ordinary thing that 
we pass by in our daily life, without paying it any attention what- 
ever, incites a deep religious or spiritual feeling one has never 
experienced before. This is the time one becomes a poet in spite 
of oneself. Chiyo was already one and left the immortal haiku 
to us. 

The point I wish to make here is that at the time Chiyo per- 
ceives the morning-glory early in the morning, which is the 
best time to see the flower, she is so absorbed in its unearthly 
beauty that the whole universe, including herself, is transformed 
into one absolute morning-glory blooming all by itself. This is 
the time, as Zen would declare, when Chiyo really sees the 
flower and the flower in turn sees the poetess. This is a case 
of perfect identification between subject and object, seer and 
seen: the whole universe is one flower, one real flower that 
stands here defying all change and decay. There is no one 
seeing it and admiring it. It is the flower seeing itself, absorbed 
in itself. At this supreme moment, to utter even a word would 
be altogether out of place. Chiyo, however, is human, she re- 
covers herself from the reverie and murmurs, “Ah! Morning- 
glory!” She can say nothing more for a while. It takes her some 
more time to find room in her mind for any thought — that she 
is out to get water for her daily necessities. Even then she 
does not feel like touching the flower, for this would be a deed 
of desecration. This is the feeling shared by a number of pious 
souls, one of whom made this icaka: 

If I break them off 
My hands may defile them; 

Let them alone as they stand in the field; 

And let me reverently offer these flowers 
To all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future. 

i^The Sojo Henjo (.816-90) in one of the waka collections compiled by the 
Imperial orders. 




The thought never occurred to Chiyo that she should untwine 
the vine in order to free the bucket for her use. Hence she went 
to the neighbor for water. A haiku generally is not explicit about 
what has been going on in the mind of the author. He does not 
go any further than barely enumerating, as it were, the most 
conspicuous objects that have impressed or inspired him. 
As to the meaning of such objects in their collective totality, 
it is left to the reader to construct and interpret it according to 
his poetic experiences or his spiritual intuitions. It is likely 
that this kind of interpretation frequently differs from the one 
intended by the author, but this does not matter very much. 
The original haiku is right before us, and we are free to use 
our own judgments concerning its artistic merit. We cannot in 
any way go beyond ourselves. To the pure-minded everything 
is pure. The world is, after all, our own subjective construc- 
tion. There is no such thing as what can be called an absolutely 
objective reality as long as each of us has his own inner life. 
This we can say is in the nature of a haiku and constitutes its 

When Chiyo saw the flower, this put her outside herself: but 
when she came back to her everyday plane of consciousness, she 
found herself with a pail in her hand, and remembering what 
she was about she went to her neighbor. If her psychology 
moved around an axis other than the way /mi^rz-mindcdness 
moves, her haiku might have shown an orderly disposition of 
ideas with a detailed description of her heavenly vision. But in 
this case it would not be a haiku of seventeen syllables, it 
would be a form such as we find in Western poetry. Chiyo was 
a Japanese born to the environment of her ancestral culture 
and naturally could not help expressing herself in the haiku as 
we have it. Haiku is the poetic form most natural and most ap- 
propriate and most vital for the Japanese genius in giving vent 
to his or her artistic impulses; and for this reason, perhaps, 
it takes a Japanese mind to appreciate fully the value of a haiku; 
foreign critics, whose way of feeling is not in accord with the 


Japanese way because they were not born in this climate and 
brought up with its cultural tradition, may fail to enter into the 
spirit of a haiku. To understand the spirit of Zen along with 
haiku, a thorough acquaintance with Japanese psychology and 
surroundings is essential. 


TO ILLUSTRATE how desirable it is to have a thorough 
knowledge of Japanese surroundings, physical, moral, aesthetic, 
and philosophical, let me cite another haiku, this time by Buson 
(1716-83), who was also a fine painter, of the late Tokugawa 
era. It runs thus; 

T suri-gane ni On the temple bell 

Tomarite nemuru Perching, sleeps 

Kocho kana The butterfly, oh! 

The full aspect of this verse will not be very easy to apprehend 
unless we know all about the temple hell and the butterfly as 
they appeal to the Japanese imagination. The haiku, as far as 
the season is concerned, evidently belongs to the early summer, 
for the butterfly generally comes out at that time of year and be- 
comes noticeable as an object of poetic imagination. The butter- 
fly is then associated with flowers, and flowers are now in bloom 
in the temple grounds where the hell is located. The imagination 
now leads us to a mountain monastery far away from the cities, 
to the monks given up to meditation, to the old trees, the wild 
mountain flowers, and perhaps to the murmuring of the rivulet: 
all is suggestive of a quiet unworldly atmosphere undisturbed 
by human affairs of greed and strife. 

The belfry is not far above the ground, and the hell is exposed 
to view and approachable. It is of solid bronze, cylindrical in 
shape, somber and grave in color. As it hangs down from the 
beam it is the symbol of immovability. When it is struck at the 



bottom with a strong piece of wood ( about five inches in 
diameter and six feet or more long) suspended horizontally, 
it gives out a series of soul-quieting sound waves. The boom is 
altogether characteristic of the Japanese temple bell, and some- 
times one is made to feel that the spirit of Buddhism vibrates 
through this resonance sent out from the belfry, especially when 
the birds are wearily coming back to their nests after the day’s 

Let us now observe in this setting, natural and historical and 
spiritual, a little white butterfly perched on the bell and gone 
to sleep. The contrast at once strikes us in various ways; the 
butterfly is a small evanescent creature, its life does not extend 
beyond the summer, but while living it enjoys itself to the highest 
degree, fluttering from flower to flower and occasionally basking 
in the relaxing sun; and now it is found dozing contentedly 
at the edge of the large awe-inspiring temple bell, symbolic of 
eternal value. In magnitude and dignity, the insect stands in 
great contrast to the bell; in color, too, the dainty little white 
creature, delicate and fluttering, is set off markedly against 
the heavy darkish background of the bronze. Even from a 
purely descriptive point of view, Buson’s haiku is poetic enough 
as it beautifully depicts an early summer scene in the mountain 
monastery grounds. But if it went no further than that, it would 
be just a pretty piece of wording. Some people may think 
that the poet was somewhat playfully inclined, putting the 
sleeping butterfly on a temple bell that may be struck by a thouglit- 
less monk at any moment, when its booming vibration will surely 
frighten the poor little innocent thing away. This utter uncon- 
sciousness of events to come, good or bad. is also typical of 
human life: we dance over a volcano altogether unaware of 
the possibility of a sudden explosion, just like Buson's butter- 
fly. And for this reason, some expect to read in Buson a certain 
moral warning aimed at our frivolous habits of living. This in- 
terpretation is not impossible. The uncertainty of fate always 
accompanies this life of ours on earth. We nowadays try to avert 


it by means of the so-called sciences, but our greed is there, al- 
ways ready to assert itself, most frequently in a violent way, 
and all “scientific” computations are upset. If Nature does not 
destroy us, we destroy ourselves. In this respect we are far 
worse off than the butterfly. The little “science” we are so proud 
of makes us conscious of all kinds of uncertainties surrounding 
us and urges us to dispel them by means of observation, measure- 
ment, experiment, abstraction, systematization, etc. But there is 
one great Uncertainty, born of Ignorance and productive of all 
other uncertainties, which defies all our “scientific” calculations; 
and before this Uncertainty, this Insecurity, Homo sapiens is no 
better than the butterfly sleeping on the temple bell. The humor- 
ous playfulness to be detected in Buson, if there is really any, 
is directed against ourselves. It is a reflection pointing to the 
awakening of the religious consciousness. 

But to my mind there is in Buson’s haiku another side, re- 
vealing his deeper insight into life. By this I mean his intuition 
of the Unconscious as it is expressed by the images of the butter- 
fly and bell. As far as the inner life of the butterfly, as Buson 
sees it, is concerned, it is unconscious that the bell exists sepa- 
rate from itself; in fact, it is not conscious of itself. When it 
lighted on the bell and went on dozing, as if the bell were the 
very foundation of all things, the place where they find their 
last shelter, did the butterfly make, humanlike, a discrimination 
beforehand? When, feeling the vibration created by the monk 
announcing noontime, the butterfly detaches itself from the bell, 
does it regret having made a miscalculation? Or is it taken 
aback by the “unexpected” booming? Are we not here reading 
too much of human intellection into the inner life of the butter- 
fly, indeed into our own inner life, or rather into Life itself? Is 
life really so connected with the analysis which occupies our su- 
perficial consciousness? Is there not in every one of us a life 
very much deeper and larger than our intellectual deliberation 
and discrimination — the life of the Unconscious itself, of what 
I call the “Cosmic Unconscious ’? Our conscious life gains 
its real significance only when it becomes connected with 



something more fundamental, namely, the Unconscious. Being 
so, the inner life, which is our religious life as represented by 
the butterfly in Buson’s haiku, knows nothing of the bell being 
eternity symbolized, nor is it at all troubled by the sudden boom- 
ing. It has been fluttering over the beautifully scented flowers 
profusely decorating the mountainside; it is now fatigued, the 
wings long for a rest after carrying about the tiny body of the 
life form commonly designated by ever-discriminating human 
beings as a butterfly; the bell is idly hanging, it perches on it, 
and being tired it goes to sleep. It now feels vibrations that were 
neither expected nor unexpected. As it feels them as an actuality, 
it flies away as unconcernedly as before. It makes no “discrimina- 
tions”; therefore it is perfectly free from anxieties, worries, 
doubts, hesitations, and so on; in other words, it lives a life 
of absolute faith and fearlessness. It is the human mind that 
makes the butterfly live a life of “discrimination” and hence of 
“little faith.” Buson’s is a haiku truly laden with religious in- 
tuitions of the weightiest importance. 

We read in the Chuang-tzu: “Once upon a time, I, Chuang-tzu, 
dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all in- 
tents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of following 
my fancies as a butterfly, and was unconscious of my individu- 
ality as a man. Suddenly I awoke, and there I lay, myself again. 
Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a 
butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man. 
Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a mutuality. 
This is called Becoming.” 

Whatever “mutuality” ifen) and “becoming” [wu-hua) may 
mean, Chuang-tzu is Chuang-tzu while he is Chuang-tzu, and 
the butterfly is a butterfly while it is a butterfly; “mutuality” 
and “becoming” are human terms, not at all appropriate in 
the world of Buson and Chuang-tzu and butterfly. 

The type of intuition given out by Buson is also traceable in 
Basho’s haiku on the cicada: 



Yagate shinu Of an early death, 

Keshiki wa miyezu, Shoiving no signs. 

Semi no koye. The cicada’s voice. 

This is understood by most critics and commentators to mean 
that life is transient and that we, not fully realizing it, are given 
up to enjoyments of various kinds just like the cicada singing 
vociferously at the top of its voice, as if it were going to live 
forever. Basho is said to be giving us here a moral and spiritual 
admonition with a concrete familiar example. But, so far as I 
can see, this kind of interpretation altogether mars Basho’s intui- 
tion of the Unconscious. The first two lines for first twelve syl- 
lables) are no doubt a human reflection on the transitoriness of 
life, but this reflection is a mere preface to the closing phrase, 
“semi no koye,” the cicada’s singing, “jyu, jyu, jyu . . . !” 
wherein lies the entire weight of the haiku. The “jyu, jyu, 
jyu . . . !” is the way the cicada asserts itself — that is, makes 
its existence known to others — and while this goes on here the 
cicada is perfect, content with itself and with the world, and 
nobody can contradict this fact. It is our human consciousness 
and reflectiveness whereby the idea of transitoriness is intro- 
duced and asserted against the cicada as if he were not thought- 
ful of its approaching destiny. As far as the cicada itself is con- 
cerned, it knows no human worries, it is not vexed with its short 
life, which may end at any moment as the days grow colder. 
As long as it can sing it is alive, and while alive here is an 
eternal life and what is the use of worrying about transitoriness? 
The cicada may be laughing at us when our reflection leads 
us to take thought for things of the morrow which is not here 
yet. The cicada will surely cite for us the divine injunction: “If 
God so clothe the grass of the field which today is, and tomorrow 
is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, 0 ye of 
little faith?” (Matthew 6: 30.) 

Faith is another word for intuition of the Unconscious. The 
Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Kwannon Bosatsu) is the “giver 

64 ] 



of fearlessness,” and those who believe in him are given fear- 
lessness, which is faith and intuition. All the haiku poets are 
worshipers of Kwannon and in possession of fearlessness, and 
therefore they can understand the inner life of the cicada and 
of the butterfly, which are never fearful of the morrow and of 
things belonging to it. 

I hope I have cleared up at least one aspect of the relation- 
ship existing between the Zen experience of satori, of nondis- 
crimination, and the haiku poets’ intuitions of the Unconscious. 
We can also see that the haiku is a poetic form possible only for 
the Japanese mind and the Japanese language, to the develop- 
ment of which Zen has contributed its respectable quota. 


IN THE following chapter on the art of tea I have occasion to 
refer to what is known mostly among the tea-men as xcahi or sabi, 
which really constitutes the spirit of tea. Now, this wabi, which 
literally means “solitariness,” “aloneness,” and more concretely, 
“poverty,” is, we might say, Avhat characterizes the entirety of 
Japanese culture reflecting the spirit of Zen. I mean poverty not 
only in its economic sense but also in its spiritual sense. In truth, 
all religion upholds the life of poverty. Christ emphasizes the 
importance of being poor in spirit, because Heaven is for those 
who are such. The so-called Lord’s Prayer echoes a life of poverty 
as something blissful. References to “daily bread,” “debts,” 
“debtors,” as well as “take no thought for the morrow,” “one 
fed on the crumbs which fall from the master’s table,” “the stone 
which the builders rejected,” “babes and sucklings ordaining 
strength,” “a camel going through the eye of a needle,” and so 
on — all these demonstrate how Christians incline to the virtues 
of poverty, materially as well as spiritually. Zen also naturally 
inclines to poverty, for as long as we are attached to something, 
as long as we are possessed by the idea of possession, we can 



never be free spirits. Even life is to be dispossessed, for “he 
that finds his life shall lose it, and he that loses his life for my 
sake shall find it.” Poverty is Zen and so is haiku. We cannot 
imagine a haiku rich in ideas, speculations, and images. Haiku 
is loneliness itself. Basho was an incarnation of this spirit. 

First of all, he was a great wandering poet, a most passionate 
lover of Nature — a kind of Nature troubadour. His life was 
spent in traveling from one end of Japan to another. It was 
fortunate that in those days there were no railways. Modern 
conveniences do not seem to go well with poetry. The modern 
spirit of scientific analysis and mechanization leaves no mystery 
unraveled, and poetry and haiku do not seem to thrive where 
there are no mysteries, no feelings of wonderment. The trouble 
with science is that it tries to leave no room for uncertainties 
or indefiniteness, it wants to see everything laid bare, it hates 
to leave anything unanalyzed and unexposed. Where science 
rules, the imagination beats a retreat. But fortunately science 
is not omniscient, nor is it omnipotent, and there will always 
be room enough for haiku, and poetry goes on thriving. 

We of modern times are all made to face so-called “hard” 
facts, or what are generally known as “objective truths,” which 
tend to ossify our minds. Where there is no tenderness, no sub- 
jectivity, poetry departs; where there is a vast expanse of sand, 
no verdant vegetation is possible. In Basho’s day, life was not 
yet so prosaic and hard pressed. One bamboo hat, one cane 
stick, and one cotton bag were enough for the poet in his wan- 
dering life. He would stop for a while in any hamlet, or any- 
where that struck his fancy, and enjoy whatever experiences 
came to him, though these were likely to include the hardships 
of primitive traveling, too. But we must remember that, when 
traveling is made too easy and comfortable, its spiritual meaning 
is lost. This may be called sentimentalism, but a certain sense 
of loneliness engendered by traveling leads one to reflect upon 
the meaning of life, for life is after all a traveling from one un- 
Cf. Kyogen’s stanza on “Poverty,’" which is quoted on p. 296. 



known to another unknown. The period of seventy, eighty, or 
even ninety years allotted to us is not meant to uncover the 
veil of mystery. A too-smooth course over this period robs us of 
this sense of Eternal Aloneness. 

That Basho had an irresistible desire for traveling is seen 
from one of the prefaces to his travel diaries called Oku no 
Hosomichi, “The Narrow Road of Oku”; 

“The sun and the moon are eternal wayfarers; so are the 
seasons, coming and going, year after year. Those who pass 
their lives on the floating boat and those who grow old taking 
hold of the horse’s bridle — for such, traveling is their daily occu- 
pation, it is in fact their own habitat. Of old there were many 
who died while journeying. 

“I do not remember when, but I have conceived the strong 
desire for a wandering life, giving myself up to the destiny of 
a solitary cloud as it is wafted in the wind. After spending 
some time along the seashore, I settled last autumn for a while 
in a tumbledown hut that stands by the river. The old cobwebs 
were swept away and the shelter was made somewhat hab- 

“But as the year approached its end, my wandering spirit 
violently asserted itself once more. It was as if I were pursued 
by a supernatural being whose temptation was more than I could 
resist. 1 was possessed with the idea of visiting the frontier district 
of Shirakawa under the foggy sky of the coming spring. Peace 
left my heart. My leggings were hurriedly patched, my traveling 
hat had its strings renewed, and my shins were treated with 
moxa burning.^^ Finally, giving up my hut to a friend, I started 

"The sun and the moon” stand for Time, and the whole sentence means 
that “Time flies, with us behind his car.” 

“Moxa” comes from mogusa in Japanese, meaning “burning herb.” It is 
made of young dried leaves of the herb called yomogi [Artemisia moxa), 
and looks like a soft woolly clump, easily combustible. It is applied to the 
skin and made to burn, acting as a kind of counter-irritant. Moxa burning 
has developed into a system in Japan and is used to cure various physical ail- 





on the northern trip, my heart filled with the moonlight that 
would soon greet me at Matsushima.” 

The predecessor of Basho was Saigyo (1118—90), of the 
Kamakura period. He was also a traveler-poet. After quitting 
his official career as a warrior attached to the court, he devoted 
his life to traveling and poetry. He was a Buddhist monk. Who- 
ever has traveled through Japan must have seen the picture of 
a monk in his traveling suit, all alone, looking at Mount Fuji. 
I forget who the painter was, but the picture suggests many 
thoughts, especially about the mysterious loneliness of human 
life, which is, however, not the feeling of forlornness, nor the de- 
pressive sense of solitariness, but a sort of appreciation of the 
mystery of the Absolute. The poem then composed by Saigyo 

The wind-blown 
Smoke of Mount Fuji 
Vanishing far away! 

Who knows the destiny 
Of my thought wafting with it? 

Basho was not a Buddhist monk but was a devotee of Zen. In 
the beginning of autumn, when it begins to shower occasionally. 
Nature is the embodiment of Eternal Aloneness. The trees be- 
come bare, the mountains begin to assume an austere appear- 
ance, the streams are more transparent, and in the evening when 
the birds weary of the day’s work and fly homeward, a lone trav- 
eler grows pensive over the destiny of human life. His mood 
moves with that of Nature. Sings Basho: 

Tahi-bito to A traveler — 

Waga na yobareru Let my name be thus known — 

Hatsu shigure. This autumnal shower. 

We are not necessarily all ascetics, but I do not know if there is 
not in every one of us an eternal longing for a world beyond this 


of empirical relativity, where the soul can quietly contemplate its 
own destiny. 

Haiku before Basho was mere wordplay, without contact with 
life. As we have observed, Basho, who was questioned by his mas- 
ter about the ultimate truth of things, happened to see a frog leap- 
ing into the old pond, its sound making a break into the serenity 
of the whole situation. He grasped once for all where the source 
of life starts from a beginningless beginning and goes on to an 
endless end. After that he became an artist, watching every mood 
of his mind as it came in contact with a world of constant becom- 
ing, and the result was that he bequeathed to us a great many 
seventeen-syllable poems. Basho was a poet of Eternal Aloneness. 

Another of his haiku is; 

Kare eda ni A branch shorn of leaves, 

Karasu no tomari keri, A crotv perching on it — 

Aki no kure. This autumnal eve. 

Simplicity of form does not always mean triviality of content. 
There is a great Beyond in the lonely raven perching on the dead 
branch of a tree. All things come out of an unknown abyss of 
mystery, and through every one of them we can have a peep into 
the abyss. You do not have to compose a grand poem of many 
hundred lines to communicate the feelings thus awakened by 
looking into the abyss. When a feeling reaches its highest pitch, 
we remain silent, because no words are adequate. Even seven- 
teen syllables may be too many. In any event, Japanese artists, 
more or less influenced by the way of Zen, tend to use the fewest 
words or strokes of the brush to express their feelings. When 
feelings are too fully expressed, no room is left for the unknown, 
and from this unknown start the Japanese arts. 

According to Basho, what is here designated as the spirit of 
Eternal Aloneness is the spirit of ffiga ( or furyu, as some would 
have it). Fuga means “refinement of life,” but not in the mod- 
ern sense of raising the standard of living. It is the chaste enjoy- 
ment of life and Nature, it is the longing for sabi or wabi, and 


not the pursuit of material comfort or of sensation. A life of 
fuga starts from the identification of one’s self with the creative 
and artistic spirit of Nature. A man of fuga, therefore, finds his 
good friends in flowers and birds, in rocks and waters, in rains 
and the moon. Bash5, in the following passages taken from the 
foreword to one of his journals, classifies himself as belong- 
ing to the group of such artists as Saigyo (1118-90), Sogi 
( 1421—1502 ) , Sesshu ( 1421—1506) , and Rikyu ( 1521—91 ) , who 
were all furabd,~'’ lunatics,” as far as their love of Nature went. 
Basho’s foreword reads; 

“There is something in this body composed of one hundred 
members and nine orifices, which is called provisionally a 
furabo. Does it refer to a thin robe in tatters, flapping in the 
wind? This fellow has for a long while been an ardent composer 
of kyokui'^ for he thought that this was his life mission. Some- 
times, however, becoming tired of it, he wants to throw it over- 
board; sometimes, cherishing the positive ambition to excel 
others in it, his mind is distracted very much with worldly con- 
cerns; and for this reason he feels uneasy. Indeed, he often as- 
pires to a worldly position, but [his liking for haiku'\ suppresses 
the thought. After all this, he is now an ignoramus with no ac- 
complishments whatever except that he holds steadily to the pur- 
suit of one line only, which is in truth the line uniformly fol- 
lowed by Saigyo in his tvaka, by Sogi in his renga,'' by Sesshu in 
his paintings, and by Rikyu in his art of tea. One spirit activates 
all their works. It is the spirit of fuga; he who cherishes it ac- 
cepts Nature and becomes a friend of the four seasons. What- 
ever objects he sees are referred to the flowers; whatever 
thoughts he conceives are related to the moon. When objects are 

The Yoshino Journal. 

Fu = wind, ra = thin fabric, and bo = monk. The name taken as a whole 
means ‘"an old monk who wanders about fluttering like a thin piece of fab- 
ric in the wind.” 

Literally, ’‘mad phrase,” meaning haiku. 

-- Waka is a Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables. Renga is a form of uaka 
running in a series. 



not referred to the flowers, one is a savage; when thoughts are 
not related to the moon, one resembles the lower animals. There- 
fore, I declare: Go beyond savagery, be separated from the lower 
animals, and accept Nature, return to Nature.” 

Basho calling himself furabo, “a man whose life is like a 
wind-blown piece of gauzy fabric,” evokes an interesting link of 
associations, since of old the wind has been full of unknow- 
abilities. One does not know where it comes from or where it 
blows itself away to. But while it goes on it brings forth all kinds 
of strange unpredictable phenomena. Chuang-tzu gives a fine de- 
scription of it as “earthly music.” Christ compares the wind to 
the Spirit: “The wind blows where it will, and you hear the 
sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it 
goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.” (John 
3:8.) A Japanese poet writes: 

Autumn is come! 

Though not visible 
So clearly to the eyes. 

One knou’s it by the sound 
Of the wind as it blows. 

Lieh-tzu, the great Taoist philosopher, has a mystical concep- 
tion of the wind. I quote the whole story, as it is pregnant with 
typical Taoist ideas that have been instilled into the Zen way of 
feeling and thence into the haiku poet’s attitude towards life. 

“Lieh-tzu had Lao-shang for his teacher, and Po Kao-tzu for 
his friend. When he had mastered the system of these two phi- 
losophers, he rode home on the wings of the wind. 

“Yin-sheng heard of this, and became his disciple. He dwelt 
with Lieh-tzii for some months without visiting his own house. 
When he had an opportunity, he begged to be initiated into his 
arts. Ten times he asked, and each time received no answer. Be- 
coming impatient, Yin-sheng announced his departure, but Lieh- 
tzu still gave no sign. So Yin-sheng went away; but after some 


26 o 


months his mind was still unsettled, so he returned and became 
his follower once more. 

“Lieh-tzu said to him: ‘Why this incessant going and coming?’ 

“Yin-sheng replied: ‘Some time ago, I sought instruction from 
you. Sir, but you would not tell me anything. That made me 
vexed with you. But now I have got rid of that feeling, and so I 
have come again.’ 

“Lieh-tzu said: ‘Formerly, I used to think you were a man of 
penetration, and have you fallen so low? Sit down, and 1 will tell 
you what 1 learned from my Master. After I had served him, 
and enjoyed the friendship of Po Kao, for the space of three 
years, my mind did not venture to reflect on right and WTong, my 
lips did not venture to speak of profit and loss. Then, for the 
first time, my Master bestowed one glance upon me — and that 
was all. 

“ ‘At the end of five years a change had taken place; my mind 
was reflecting again on right and wrong, and my lips w^ere speak- 
ing again of profit and loss. Then, for the first time, my Master 
relaxed his countenance and smiled. 

“ ‘At the end of seven years, there was another change. 1 let 
my mind reflect on what it would, but it no longer occupied itself 
wfith right and wrong. I let my lips utter whatsoever they pleased, 
but they no longer spoke of profit and loss. Then, at last, my 
Master led me in to sit on the mat beside him. 

“ ‘At the end of nine years my mind gave free rein to its re- 
flections, my mouth free passage to its speech. Of right and 
wrong, profit and loss. I had no knowledge, either as touching 
myself or others. I knew neither that the Master was my instruc- 
tor, nor that the other man was my friend. Inside and outside 
were emptied. After that, there was no distinction between eye 
and ear, ear and nose, nose and mouth: all were the same. My 
mind was concentrated, my body in dissolution, my flesh and 
bones all melted away. I was wholly unconscious of what my 
body was resting on, or what was under my feet. I was borne 
this way and that on the wind, like dry chaff or leaves falling 




from a tree. In fact, I knew not whether the wind was riding on 
me or I on the wind. Now, you have not spent one whole season 
in your teacher’s house, and yet you have lost patience two or 
three times already. Why, at this rate, the atmosphere will never 
support an atom of your body, and even the earth will be un- 
equal to the weight of one of your limbs! How can you expect to 
walk in the void or to be charioted on the wind?’ 

“Hearing this, Yin-sheng was deeply ashamed. He could 
hardly trust himself to breathe, and it was long ere he ventured 
to utter another word.” 

Chuang-tzii is, however, not quite satisfied with Lieh-tzu, for 
the latter has to wait for the wind for his ride. Chuang-tzu 
would have nothing to do with the wind, indeed, not with any- 
thing that is external: 

“As to Lieh-tzii’s riding on the wind and moving about as he 
wished, it is all very well. He sometimes stayed away even as 
long as fifteen days. Among those who have attained happiness 
his is really a rare case. Though he has freed himself from walk- 
ing [being attached to the earth], he still has to wait for some- 
thing to turn up. But if he, riding upon the eternal reason of 
the universe and controlling the six elements of Nature, could 
leisurely roam about in the realm of the Infinite, what would he 
have to wait for?” 

Whatever the Taoist philosopher may say, Lieh-tzu and 
Chuang-tzu are saying the same thing, for they are both w'ander- 
ers in the realm of the Unlimited, where all things start and re- 
turn. Basho must surely have been acquainted w ith those mystical 
writings. The Chinese mind is practical enough, but frequently 
it aspires to break through all the barriers that keep it within the 
rules of conventionalism; but the Japanese mind is so attached to 

-•* Taoist Teachings from the Book of Lieh Tzu, tr. Lionel Giles,, pp. 39-42. 
Slight changes have been made in the text by the author. 

Book I. 

The original term for ‘’eternal reason” is cheng, meaning “a state of 
things as they are”: fire burns, water flows, wind blows, stone falls, gas 
rises, etc. 



the earth that it would not forget, however mean they may be, 
the grasses growing under the feet. Basho has no doubt a great 
deal of Taoism in him, but at the same time he does not fly 
away on the wings of the wind or neglect things in his intimate 
surroundings or lose daily touch with his mundane life. 

One of the favorite sayings of Zen runs: 

After so many years of hardship my rohe is in tatters 
And a half of it is now all blown away with the wind. 


THESE considerations lead me to take up some of the haiku in 
their relation to the Japanese character. While the haiku masters 
are poets of poverty, they are not at all ego-centered, as indi- 
gence sometimes disposes people to be. If they were they could 
not be poets. For the poet first of all must be selfless so that he 
can broaden himself out to embrace the whole universe in his 
arms. It was Rydkwan of Echigo (1758-1831) who suffered all 
the lice to infest his undergarments and even gave them occa- 
sional airings when ‘“his black robe of monkhood was not wide 
enough to take in all the poor people.” This may be an extreme 
case, but the haiku poet, if he at all aspires to be one, cannot 
have his self assertive in any circumstance. 

Yamaji kite Coming along the mountain path, 

IManiyara yukashi / am somehow mysteriously moved 

Sumire-gusa. By these violets. 

This is Basho s haiku. Mysteriously” is made to stand for the 
Japanese “naniyara yukashi,"’ but the English is far from giving 
the original feeling. I am not sure what word has an equivalent 
value for yukashi. Naniyara means “without knowing why,” and 
“somehow may do. As to yukashi, I may choose for it such 
words as “charming,” “sweet,” “dainty,” “attractive.” The Jap- 



anese has all these, but it means something more, something 
deeper, something mysteriously impressive and attracting, but in 
a sense keeping one away from approaching too near or too fa- 
miliarly, as it demands a certain reverence. 

Basho must have had a long, dreary, tiresome treading over 
a rugged mountain pass when he came across a few violets in 
bloom among the wild bushes. They are not very assuming flow- 
ers, not much demanding attention; they are in a way homely, 
and in this very homeliness there is something sweet and attrac- 
tive, yet holding a dignity that forbids one’s too familiar ap- 
proach. Their unobtrusive dignity and unaffected homeliness 
must have mysteriously impressed Basho. Hence the phrase “na- 
niyara yukashi sumire-gusa.” 

Basho has another haiku on an humble flower, a white flower- 
ing herb known in Japan as nazuna. This is not at all pretty and 
charming; it is quite insignificant compared with the violet, and I 
doubt if it had ever been elevated to an object demanding a kind 
of poetic treatment for any reason. Its English name is shep- 
herd’s-purse. Basho is probably the first one who picked it up as 
an herb worth while for a haiku inspiration: 

Yoku mireba When closely inspected, 

Nazuna hana saku. The nazuna is flotvering 
Kakine kana. By the hedge. 

Apparently the haiku does not say much about the herb in its 
unpretentious flowering by a neglected countryside hedge. Ba- 
sho’s attention was first awakened by something white by the 
roadside. Wondering, he approached, and carefully examined 
it, and discovered that it was the flowering nazuna, ordinarily un- 
noticed by most passers-by. The discovery must have called up a 
variety of feelings, on which he is not at all explicit in his seven- 
teen syllables. He leaves the pleasure of discovery and apprecia- 
tion to the readers. How shall we then interpret this haiku? 

Wordsworth, in his “Intimations of Immortality,” has this: 




— But there’s a Tree, of many, one, 

A single Field which I have looked upon. 

Both of them speak of something that is gone: 

The Pansy at my feet 
Doth the same tale repeat: 

W' hither is fled the visionary gleam? 

Where is it nou', the glory and the dream? 

Did the shepherd’s-purse revive for Basho the memory of a para- 
dise lost? Wordsworth mentions a pansy; the pansy is full of col- 
ors, not at all like the nazuna. I wonder if the nazuna would ever 
attract the English poet so as to make him bend over it and give 
it a close inspection. 

Tennyson, another great English poet, has his famous “Elower 
in the Crannied Wall,” which reads: 

Flotver in the crannied wall, 

I pluck you out of the erannies, 

I hold you here, root and all, in my hand. 

Little flotver — but if / eould understand 
What you are, root and all, and all in all, 

1 should know what God and man is. 

Tennyson is here quite inquisitive, philosophically speaking. He 
thinks, if he could know what he has in his hand — the little 
flower, root and all — he would also know what God and man is. 
Did Basho have the same inquisitive mind? No, his mind was far 
from being so. In the first place, he would never think of merci- 
lessly plucking the poor nazuna with "its root and all” and hold- 
ing it in his hand and asking of himself any question. Bash5 
knew better than Tennyson. He was no scientist bent on analysis 
and experiment, nor was he a philosopher. When he saw the 
white-flowered nazuna, so humbly, so innocently, and yet with all 
its individuality, growing among other vegetation, he at once re- 
alized that the herb was no other than himself. If it is arrayed 
better than "Solomon in all his glory,” Basho is also glorified in 




the same style. If it is “alive today and tomorrow thrown into the 
oven,” Basho, too, has the same destiny. A Zen master declares 
that he can turn one hlade of grass into the Buddha-body sixteen 
feet high and at the same time transform the Buddha-body into a 
blade of grass. This is the mystery of being-becoming and be- 
coming-being. This is the mystery of self-identification and uni- 
versal interpenetration or interfusion. 

One day jVIaiijusrl, ordering Sudhana to bring him a medic- 
inal herb, added, “Search for a herb that is not medicinal.” 
Sudhana went out and searched for one such, but in vain. He 
came back and announced, “There is not a herb in the field that 
is not medicinal.” ManjusrI said, “Bring then what is medicinal.” 
Sudhana just picked any herb growing around there and handed 
it over to ManjusrI, who took it up and made this declaration: 
“This herb is medicinal; it takes life, it also gives life.” Basho 
and the nazuna herb as well as the one in ManjusrI’s hand — 
each has this mysterious power in itself. Did this occur to Basho 
when the nazuna under the old hedge was scrutinized by him? 

By way of a postscript I wish to add a few words here. What we 
can say generally about Western poetry on nature is that it is 
dualistic and personal, inquisitive and analytical. When a poet 
sees the “primrose by the wayside” he asks,'*" 

Can anything so fair and free 
Be fashioned out of clay? 

When he sees a rose he wonders and thinks of the giver as per- 
former of miracles: 

IT e muse on miracles who look 
But lightly on a rose! 

Who gives it fragrance or the glint 
Of glory that it shows? 

"'’All that follows is taken from Masterpieces of Religious Verse, ed. James 
D. Morrison, pp. 19-21. (The firt-t three poets quoted are Anna Bunston de 
Bary. Edith Daley, and Ralph Hodfisnn.) 



Wordsworth may gaze at ‘"a violet by a mossy stone half hid- 
den from the eye,” but his interest is not in the violet as such. It 
comes to his notice only when he thinks of the fate of a country 
maid who lives and dies unknown and unpraised. The violet may 
bloom unknown and unpraised, it may wither unknown and un- 
praised. The poet would pay no attention to it. It is only when he 
thinks of the maid he loves. His romantic contemplation of it 
comes only in connection with a human interest. 

The snowdrop flowering “close to sod ... in white and 
green” is seen “unmarred, unsoiled” only when “a thought of 
God” is brought in. If not for God, it would not be “so holy and 
yet so lowly.” If not for God, it would never “cleave the clay,” 
and it is surely subject to “destruction” and will never make you 
“fall on your knees” beside it. 

Another poet sings of the rose: 

He came and took me by the hand 
Up to a red rose tree. 

He kept His meaning to Himself 
But gave a rose to me. 

I did not pray Him to lay bare 
The mystery to me. 

Enough the rose was Heaven to smell 
And His own face to see. 

Why must the poet bring “Him” into the rose in order “to smell 
Heaven” in it and to see “His own face”? Is not the rose “the 
mystery” in its isness or in its suchiiess. without making it rely 
on a stranger? Basho has no need for dualism and personalism. 

While some other flowers, such as the daffodil, violet, hya- 
cinth, lily, daisy, verbena, pansy, etc., have not escaped the no- 
tice of Western poets, it is the rose that has attracted them most 
strongly. The following jjoem on the rose by G. A. Studdert-Ken- 
nedy bespeaks in various ways characteristic Western and Chris- 
tian feeling: 




All m Ysteries 

In this one flower meet 

And intertwine. 

The universal is concrete. 

The human and divine. 

In one unique and perfect thing, are fused 
Into a unity of Love, 

This rose as I behold it; 

The tears 

Of Christ are in it 
And His Blood 
Has dyed it red, 

I could not see it but for Him 

Because He led 

Me to the Love of God, 

From which all Beauty springs. 

I and my rose 
Are one. 

In the first part of the quotation the author is philosophical: in 
the second, perhaps, he is religious. But such images or symbols 
as blood and tears are required to realize the oneness of the rose 
and myself! 



Zen and the Art of Tea 


W HAT is common to Zen and the art of tea is the constant 
attempt both make at simplification. The elimination of 
the unnecessary is achieved by Zen in its intuitive grasp of final 
reality: by the art of tea, in the way of living typified by serving 
tea in the tearoom. The art of tea is the aestheticism of primitive 
simplicity. Its ideal, to come closer to Nature, is realized by shel- 
tering oneself under a thatched roof in a room which is hardly 
ten feet square but which must be artistically constructed and 
furnished. Zen also aims at stripping off all the artificial wrap- 
pings humanity has devised, supposedly for its ovm solemniza- 
tion. Zen first of all combats the intellect; for, in spite of its prac- 
tical usefulness, the intellect goes against our effort to delve into 
the depths of being. Philosophy may propose all kinds of ques- 
tions for intellectual solution, but it never claims to give us the 
spiritual satisfaction which must be accessible to every one of us, 
however intellectually undeveloped he may be. Philosophy is ac- 
cessible only to those who are intellectually equipped, and thus it 
cannot be a discipline of universal appreciation. Zen — or, more 
broadly speaking, religion — is to cast off all one thinks he pos- 
sesses, even life, and to get back to the ultimate state of being, 
the “Original Abode,” one's own father or mother. This can be 
done by every one of us, for we are what we are because of it 
or him or her, and without it or him or her we are nothing. This 
is to be called the last stage of simplification, since things cannot 
be reduced to any simpler terms. The art of tea symbolizes sim- 




plification, first of all, by an inconspicuous, solitary, thatched hut 
erected, perhaps, under an old pine tree, as if the hut were part 
of nature and not specially constructed by human hands. When 
form is thus once for all symbolized it allows itself to be artis- 
tically treated. It goes without saying that the principle of treat- 
ment is to he in perfect conformity with the original idea which 
prompted it, that is, the elimination of unnecessaries. 

Tea was known in Japan even before the Kamakura era 
(1185-1338), but its first wider propagation is generally as- 
cribed to Eisai (1141-1215), the Zen teacher, who brought tea 
seeds from China and had them cultivated in his friend’s monas- 
tery grounds. It is said that his hook on tea, together with some 
of the tea prepared from his plants, was presented to Minamoto 
Sanetomo (1192-1219), the Shogun of the time, who happened 
to be ill. Eisai thus came to be known as the father of tea cul- 
tivation in Japan. He thought that tea had some medicinal quali- 
ties and was good for a variety of diseases. Apparently he did 
not teach how one conducts the tea ceremony, which he must 
have observed while at the Zen monasteries in China. The tea 
ceremony is a way of entertaining visitors to the monastery, or 
sometimes a way of entertaining its own occupants among them- 
selves. The Zen monk who brought the ritual to Japan was Dai-6 
the National Teacher ’ (1236—1308), about half a century later 
than Eisai. After Dai-6 came several monks who became masters 
of the art, and finally Ikkyu ( 1394-1481), the noted abbot of 
Daitokuji, taught the technique to one of his disciples, Shuk6 
( 1422-1502), whose artistic genius developed it and succeeded 
in adapting it to Japanese taste. Shuko thus became the origi- 
nator of the art of tea and taught it to Ashikaga Yoshimasa 
( 1435-90 ) , Sh6gun of the time, who was a great patron of the 
arts. Later, J5-6 (1501—55) and especially Rikyu further im- 
proved it and gave a finishing touch to what is now known as 
cha-no-yu, generally translated "tea ceremony" or "tea cult." 
The original tea ceremony as practiced at Zen monasteries is 

^ Returned from China in 1267. 


carried on independently of the art now in vogue among the gen- 
eral public. 

I have often thought of the art of tea in connection with Bud- 
dhist life, which seems to partake so much of the characteristics 
of the art. Tea keeps the mind fresh and vigilant, but it does not 
intoxicate. It has qualities naturally to be appreciated by scholars 
and monks. It is in the nature of things that tea came to be 
extensively used in the Buddhist monasteries and that its first 
introduction to Japan came through the monks. If tea symbolizes 
Buddhism, can we not say that wine stands for Christianity? 
Wine is used extensively by the Christians. It is used in the 
church as the symbol of Christ’s blood, which, according to the 
Christian tradition, was shed for sinful humanity. Probably for 
this reason the medieval monks kept wine-cellars in their monas- 
teries. They look jovial and happy, surrounding the cask and 
holding up the wine cups. Wine first excites and then inebriates. 
In many ways it contrasts with tea, and this contrast is also that 
between Buddhism and Christianity. 

^ e can see now that the art of tea is most intimately con- 
nected with Zen not only in its practical development but prin- 
cipally in the observance of the spirit that runs through the cere- 
mony itself. The spirit in terms of feeling consists of ‘’harmony” 
(iva), “reverence” {kei), “purity” (sei), and ’‘tranquillity” 
(jaku). These four elements are needed to bring the art to a suc- 
cessful end; they are all the essential constituents of a brotherly 
and orderly life, which is no other than the life of the Zen mon- 
astery. That the monks behaved in perfect orderliness can be in- 
ferred from the remark made by Tei Meido (Ch’eng Ming-tao in 
Chinese ) , a Confucian scholar of the Sung, who once visited a 
monastery called Jorinji (Ting-lin Ssu): “Here, indeed, we wit- 
ness the classical form of ritualism as it was practiced in the an- 
cient three dynasties.” The ancient three dynasties are the ideal 
days dreamed of by every Chinese scholar-statesman, when a 
most desirable state of things prevailed and people enjoyed all 
the happiness that could be expected of a good government. Even 



now, the Zen monks are well trained individually and collec- 
tively in conducting ceremonies. The Ogasawara school of eti- 
quette is thought to have its origin in the "Monastery Regula- 
tions” compiled by Hyakujo “ and known as Hyakujo Shingi. 
While Zen teaching consists in grasping the spirit by transcend- 
ing form, it unfailingly reminds us of the fact that the world in 
which we live is a world of particular forms and that the spirit 
expresses itself only by means of form. Zen is, therefore, at once 
antinomian and disciplinarian. 


THE CHARACTER for “harmony” also reads “gentleness of 
spirit” (yatcaragi) , and to my mind “gentleness of spirit” seems 
to describe better the spirit governing the whole procedure of the 
art of tea. Harmony refers more to form, while gentleness is sug- 
gestive of an inward feeling. The general atmosphere of the tea- 
room tends to create this kind of gentleness all around — gentle- 
ness of touch, gentleness of odor, gentleness of light, and gentle- 
ness of sound. You take up a teacup, handmade and irregularly 
shaped, the glaze probably not uniformly overlaid, but in spite of 
this primitiveness the little utensil has a peculiar charm of gentle- 
ness, quietness, and unobtrusiveness. The incense burning is 
never strong and stimulating, but gentle and pervading. The 
windows and screens are another source of a gentle prevailing 
charm, for the light admitted into the room is always soft and 
restful and conducive to a meditative mood. The breeze passing 
through the needles of the old pine tree harmoniously blends 
with the sizzling of the iron kettle over the fire. The entire envi- 
ronment thus reflects the personality of the one who has 
created it. 

“What is most valuable is gentleness of spirit; what is most 
essential is not to contradict others” — these are the first words of 

" Pai-chang Hui-hai (720-814), a great Zen master of the T’ang dynasty. 





the so-called “Constitution of Seventeen Articles,” compiled by 
Prince Shotoku in 604.^ It is a kind of moral and spiritual ad- 
monition given by the Prince Regent to his subjects. But it is 
significant that such an admonition, whatever its political bear- 
ings, should begin by placing unusual emphasis on gentleness of 
spirit. In fact, this is the first precept given to the Japanese con- 
sciousness to which the people have responded with varying de- 
grees of success during centuries of civilization. Although Japan 
has lately come to be known as a warlike nation, this concept is 
erroneous with respect to the people, whose consciousness of 
their own character is that they are, on the whole, of gentle na- 
ture. And there is good reason to presume this, for the physical 
atmosphere enveloping the whole island of Japan is characterized 
by a general mildness, not only climatically but meteorologically. 
This is mostly due to the presence of much moisture in the air. 
The mountains, villages, woods, etc., enwrapped in a somewhat 
vaporous atmosphere, have a soft appearance; flowers are not as 
a rule too richly colored, but somewhat subdued and delicate; 
while the spring foliage is vividly fresh. Sensitive minds brought 
up in an environment like this cannot fail to imbibe much of it, 
and with it gentleness of spirit. We are, however, apt to deviate 
from this basic virtue of the Japanese character as we come in 
contact with various difficulties, social, political, economic, and 
cultural. We have to guard ourselves against such subversive in- 
fluences, and Zen has come to help us in this. 

When Dogen (1200—1253) came back from China after some 
years of study of Zen there, he was asked what he had learned. 
He said, “Not much except soft-heartedness {nyunan-shin) 
“Soft-heartedness” is “tender-mindedness” and in this case means 
“gentleness of spirit.” Generally we are too egotistic, too full of 
hard, resisting spirit. We are individualistic, unable to accept 
things as they are or as they come to us. Resistance means fric- 
tion, friction is the source of all trouble. When there is no self, 
the heart is soft and offers no resistance to outside influences. 

^ Cf. p. 305 and n. 17. 



This does not necessarily mean the absence of all sensitivities 
or emotionalities. They are controlled in the totality of a spiritual 
outlook on life. And in this aspect I am sure that Christians and 
Buddhists alike know how to follow Dogen in the appreciation of 
the significance of selflessness or “soft-heartedness. In the art 
of tea the “gentleness of spirit” is spoken of in the same spirit 
enjoined by Prince Shotoku. Indeed, “gentleness of spirit” or 
“soft-heartedness” is the foundation of our life on earth. If the 
art of tea purports to establish a Buddha-land in its small group, 
it has to start with gentleness of spirit. To illustrate this point 
further, let us quote the Zen Master Takuan (1573—1645 ). 


THE PRINCIPLE of cha-no-yu is the spirit of harmonious 
blending of Heaven and Earth and provides the means for es- 
tablishing universal peace. People of the present time have 
turned it into a mere occasion for meeting friends, talking of 
worldly affairs, and indulging in palatable food and drink; be- 
sides, they are proud of their elegantly furnished tearooms, 
where, surrounded by rare objects of art, they would serve tea in 
a most accomplished manner, and deride those who are not so 
skillful as themselves. This is, however, far from being the origi- 
nal intention of cha-no-yu. 

Let us then construct a small room in a bamboo grove or un- 
der trees, arrange streams and rocks and plant trees and bushes, 
while [inside the room] let us pile up charcoal, set a kettle, ar- 
range flowers, and arrange in order the necessary tea utensils. 
And let all this be carried out in accordance with the idea that in 
this room we can enjoy the streams and rocks as we do the rivers 
and mountains in Nature, and appreciate the various moods and 
sentiments suggested by the snow, the moon, and the trees and 
flowers, as they go through the transformation of seasons, ap- 




pearing and disappearing, blooming and withering. As visitors 
are greeted here with due reverence, we listen quietly to the 
boiling water in the kettle, which sounds like a breeze passing 
through the pine needles, and become oblivious of all worldly 
woes and worries; we then pour out a dipperful of water from 
the kettle, reminding us of the mountain stream, and thereby our 
mental dust is wiped off. This is truly a world of recluses, saints 
on earth. 

The principle of propriety is reverence, which in practical life 
functions as harmonious relationship. This is the statement made 
by Confucius when he defines the use of propriety, and is also 
the mental attitude one should cultivate as cha-no-yu. For in- 
stance, when a man is associated with persons of high social 
rank his conduct is simple and natural, and there is no cringing 
self-deprecation on his part. When he sits in the company of peo- 
ple socially below him he retains a respectful attitude toward 
them, being entirely free from the feeling of self-importance. This 
is due to the presence of something pervading the entire tearoom, 
which results in the harmonious relationship of all who come 
here. However long the association, there is always the persist- 
ing sense of reverence. The spirit of the smiling Kasyapa and 
the nodding Tseng-tzu must be said to be moving here; this 
spirit, in words, is the mysterious Suchness that is beyond all 

For this reason, the principle animating the tearoom, from its 
first construction down to the choice of the tea utensils, the tech- 
nique of service, the cooking of food, wearing apparel, etc., is to 
be sought in tbe avoidance of complicated ritual and mere osten- 
tation. The implements may be old, but the mind can be invig- 
orated thercM ith so that it is ever fresh and ready to respond to 
the changing seasons and the varying views resulting therefrom; 
it never curries favor, it is never covetous, never inclined to ex- 
travagance, but always watchful and considerate for others. The 
owner of such a mind is naturally gentle-mannered and always 
sincere — this is cha-no-yu. 




The way of cha-no-yu, therefore, is to appreciate the spirit 
of a naturally harmonious blending of Heaven and Earth, to see 
the pervading presence of the live elements {ivu-hsing) by one’s 
fireside, where the mountains, rivers, rocks, and trees are 
found as they are in Nature, to draw the refreshing water from 
the well of Nature, to taste with one’s own mouth the flavor sup- 
plied by Nature. How grand this enjoyment of the harmonious 
blending of Heaven and Earth! 

[Here ends Takuan] 

Had the art of tea and Zen something to contribute to the pres- 
ence of a certain democratic spirit in the social life of Japan? 
In spite of the strict social hierarchy establislied during her feu- 
dal days, the idea of equality and fraternity persists among the 
people. In the tearoom, ten feet square, guests of various social 
grades are entertained with no discrimination; for, once therein, 
the commoner’s knees touch those of the nobleman, and they talk 
with due reverence to each other on subjects in which they both 
are interested. In Zen, of course, no earthly distinctions are al- 
lowed, and its monks have free approach to all classes of society 
and are at home with them all. It is, indeed, deeply ingrained in 
human nature that it aspires once in a while to throw off all the 
restraints society has artificially put on us and to have free and 
natural and heart-to-heart intercourse with fellow beings, in- 
cluding the animals, plants, and inanimate objects so called. We, 
therefore, always welcome every opportunity for this kind of 
liberation. No doubt this is what Takuan means when he refers 
to “the harmonious blending of heaven and earth,” where all an- 
gels join in the chorus. 

“Reverence” is fundamentally and originally a religious feel- 
ing — feeling for a being supposed to be higher than ourselves 
who are, after all, poor human mortals. The feeling is later trans- 




ferred to social relationships and then degenerates into mere 
formalism. In modern days of democracy so called, everybody is 
just as good as everybody else, at least from the social point of 
view, and there is nobody specially deserving reverence. But 
when the feeling is analyzed back to its original sense, it is a 
reflection on one’s own unworthiness, that is, the realization of 
one’s limitations, physical and intellectual, moral and spiritual. 
This realization evokes in us the desire for transcending our- 
selves and also for coming into touch with a being who stands to 
us in every possible form of opposition. The desire frequently di- 
rects our spiritual movements toward an object outside us; but 
when it is directed within ourselves, it becomes self-abnegation 
and a feeling of sin. These are all negative virtues, while posi- 
tively they lead us to reverence, the wish not to slight others. 
We are beings full of contradictions: in one respect we feel that 
we are just as good as anybody else, but at the same time we 
have an innate suspicion that everybody else is better than our- 
selves — a kind of inferiority complex. 

There is a Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism ^ known as 
Sadaparibhuta (Jofukyo Bosatsu), “one who never slights 
others.” Perhaps when we are quite sincere with ourselves — 
that is, ^vhen we are all alone with ourselves in the innermost 
chamber of our being — there is a feeling there which makes us 
move toward others with a sense of humiliation. Whatever this 
may be, there is a deeply religious attitude of mind in reverence. 
Zen may burn all the holy statues in the temple to warm itself on 
a cold wintry night; Zen may destroy all the literature containing 
its precious legacies in order to save its very existence as the 
truth shorn of all its external trappings, however glamorous they 
appear to outsiders; but it never forgets to worship a storm- 
broken and mud-soiled humble blade of grass; it never neglects 
to offer all the wild flowers of the field, just as they are, to all 
the Buddhas in the three thousand chiliacosms. Zen knows how 
to revere because it knows how to slight. What is needed in Zen 

* The Saddharmapundarika Sutra, tr. H. Kern, p. 356. 

28 o 


as in anything else is sincerity of heart, and not mere conceptu- 

Toyotomi Hideyoshi was the great patron of the art of tea in 
his day and an admirer of Sen no Rikyii (1521—91), who was 
virtually the founder of the art. Although he was always after 
something sensational, grandiose, and ostentatious, he seems to 
have understood finally something of the spirit of the art as ad- 
vocated by Rikyu and his followers, when he gave this verse to 
Rikyu at one of the latter’s “tea parties”; 

When tea is made with uater drawn from the depths of 

iVhose bottom is beyond measure. 

We really have ivhat is called cha-no-yu. 

Hideyoshi was a crude and cruel despot in many ways, but in 
his liking for the art of tea we are inclined to find something gen- 
uine beyond just “using” the art for his political purposes. His 
verse touches the spirit of reverence when he can refer to the 
water deeply drawn from the well of the mind. 

Rikyu teaches that “the art of cha-no-yu consists in nothing 
else but in boiling water, making tea, and sipping it.” This is 
simple enough as far as it goes. Human life, we can say, consists 
in being born, eating and drinking, working and sleeping, marry- 
ing and giving birth to children, and finally in passing away — 
whither, no one knows. Nothing seems to be simpler than living 
this life, when it is so stated. But how many of us are there who 
can live this kind of matter-of-fact or rather God-intoxicated life, 
cherishing no desires, leaving no regrets, but absolutely trustful 
of God? T^Tile living we think of death: while dying we long for 
life; while one thing is being accomplished, so many other things, 
not necessarily cognate and usually irrelevant, crowd into our 
brains, and divert and dissipate the energy which is to be con- 
centrated on the matter in hand. When water is poured into the 
bowl, it is not the water alone that is poured into it — a variety 
of things go into it, good and bad, pure and impure, things about 


28 i 


which one has to blush, things which can never be poured out 
anywhere except into one’s own deep unconseious. The tea water 
when analyzed contains all the filth disturbing and contaminat- 
ing the stream of our consciousness. An art is perfected only 
when it ceases to be art: when there is the perfection of artless- 
ness, when the innermost sincerity of our being asserts itself, 
and this is the meaning of reverence in the art of tea. Reverence 
is, therefore, sincerity or simplicity of heart. 

“Purity,” estimated as constituting the spirit of the art of tea, 
may be said to be the contribution of Japanese mentality. Purity 
is cleanliness or sometimes orderliness, which is observable in 
everything everywhere concerned with the art. Fresh water is 
liberally used in the garden, called roji (courtyard) ; in case nat- 
ural running water is not available, there is a stone basin 
filled with water as one approaches the tearoom, which is nat- 
urally kept clean and free from dust and dirt. 

Purity in the art of tea may remind us of the Taoistic teaching 
of Purity. There is something common to both, for the object of 
discipline in both is to free one’s mind from the defilements of 
the senses. 

A teamaster says: “The spirit of cha-no-yu is to cleanse the 
six senses from contamination. By seeing the kakemono in the 
tokonoma (alcove) and the flower in the vase, one’s sense of 
smell is cleansed; by listening to the boiling of water in the iron 
kettle and to the dripping of water from the bamboo pipe, one’s 
ears are cleansed; by tasting tea one’s mouth is cleansed; and 
by handling the tea utensils one’s sense of touch is cleansed. 
When thus all the sense organs are cleansed, the mind itself is 
cleansed of defilements. The art of tea is after all a spiritual dis- 
cipline, and my aspiration for every hour of the day is not to de- 
part from the spirit of the tea, which is by no means a matter of 
mere entertainment.” “ 

^ By Nakano Kazuma in the Hagakure. Hagakure literally means “hidden 
under the leaves." that is. "to he unostentatious in practicing a life of good- 
ness," or “not to he ‘as the hypocrites [who] love to pray standing in the 



In one of Rikyu’s poems we have this: 

While the roji is meant to be a passageway 
Altogether outside this earthly life. 

How is it that people only contrive 
To besprinkle it with dust of mind? 

Here as in the following poems he refers to his own state of 
mind while looking out quietly from his tearoom: 

The court is left covered 
With the fallen leaves 
Of the pine tree; 

No dust is stirred. 

And calm is my mind! 

The moonlight 
Far up in the sky. 

Looking through the eaves. 

Shines on a mind 
Undisturbed ivith remorse. 

It is, indeed, a mind pure, serene, and free from disturbing 
emotions that can enjoy the aloneness of the Absolute: 

The snow-covered mountain path 
Winding through the rocks 
Has come to its end; 

Here stands a hut. 

The master is all alone; 

No visitors he has. 

Nor are any expected. 

synagogups and in the corners of the streets’” (Matt. 6 : S) . It contains wise 
sayings given by Yamamoto Jocho, a recluse Zen philosopher, to his disciple, 
Tashiro Matazaemon, both of whom lived on the feudal estate of Lord Nabe- 
shima. It consists of eleven fa-cicles, compiled between 1710 and 1716. The 
book is also known as the ‘‘Naheshima Kongo” in imitation of the Con- 
iacian Analects (Kongo). 


In a book called Nanbo-roku, which is one of the most im- 
portant, almost sacred, textbooks of the art of tea, we have the 
following passage, shelving that the ideal of the art is to realize 
a Buddha-land of Purity on earth, however small in scale, and to 
see an ideal community gathered here, however temporary the 
gathering and however few' its members: 

“The spirit of uabi is to give an expression to the Buddha- 
land of Purity altogether free from defilements, and, therefore, 
in this roji ( courtyard ) and in this thatched hut there ought not 
to be a speck of dust of any kind; both master and visitors are 
expected to be on terms of absolute sincerity; no ordinary meas- 
ures of proportion or etiquette or conventionalism are to be fol- 
lowed. A fire is made, water is boiled, and tea is served: this is 
all that is needed here, no other worldly considerations are to in- 
trude. For what we want here is to give full expression to the 
Buddha-mind. When ceremony, etiquette, and other such things 
are insisted on, worldly considerations of various kinds creep in, 
and master and visitors alike feel inclined to find fault with each 
other. It becomes thus more and more difficult to find such ones 
as fully comprehend the meaning of the art. If we were to have 
Joshu “ for master and Bodhidharma, the first Zen patriarch, for 
a guest, and Rikyu and myself picked up the dust in the roji, 
would not such a gathering be a happy one indeed?” 

We see how thoroughly imbued wdth the spirit of Zen is this 
statement of one of the chief disciples of Rikyu. 

The next section will be devoted to the elucidation of sabi or 
wabi, the concept constituting the fourth principle of the art of 
tea, “tranquillity.” In fact, this is the most essential factor in the 
tea art, and without it there can be no cha-no-yu whatever. It 
is in this connection, indeed, that Zen enters deeply into the art 
of tea. 

® An old Chinese Zen master reputed for his saying, “Have a cup of tea.” 
See my Introduction to Zen Buddhism, p. 80, and also pp. 34 f. of the present 




I HAVE used the term “tranquillity” for the fourth element 
making up the spirit of the art of tea, but it may not be a good 
term for all that is implied in the Chinese character chi, or jaku 
in Japanese. Jaku is sabi, but sabi eontains much more than 
“tranquillity.” Its Sanskrit equivalent, sdnta or sdnti, it is true, 
means “tranquillity,” “peace,” “serenity,” and jaku has been 
frequently used in Buddhist literature to denote “death” or 
“nirvana.” But as the term is used in the tea, its implication is 
“poverty,” “simplification,” “aloneness,” and here sabi be- 
comes synonymous with ivabi. To appreciate poverty, to accept 
whatever is given, a tranquil, passive mind is needed, but in 
both sabi and uabi there is a suggestion of objeetivity. Just to be 
tranquil or passive is not sabi nor is it ivabi. There is always 
something objective that evokes in one a mood to be ealled uabi. 
And u abi is not merely a psychological reaction to a certain pat- 
tern of environment. There is an active principle of aestheticism 
in it; when this is lacking poverty becomes indigence, alone- 
ness becomes ostracism or misanthropy or inhuman unsociabil- 
ity. W^abi or sabi, therefore, may be defined as an active aesthet- 
ical appreciation of poverty; when it is used as a constituent of 
the tea, it is the creating or remodeling of an environment in 
such a way as to awaken the feeling of wabi or sabi. Nowadays, 
as these terms are used, we may say that sabi applies more to 
the individual objects and environment generally, and wabi to 
the living of a life ordinarily associated with poverty or insuffi- 
ciency or imperfection. Sabi is thus more objective, whereas 
wabi is more subjective and personal. We speak of a wabi-zumai, 
“the ivabi way of living,” but when a vessel such as a tea caddy 
or a bowl or a flower vase comes in for appraisal, it is often char- 
acterized as having a “sabi taste,” or kan-mi. Kan and sabi are 
synonymous, while mi is “taste.” The tea utensils are, as far as I 
know, never qualified as being of “wabi taste.” 


Of the following two verses the first is considered expressive of 
the idea of ivabi, while the second gives the idea of sabi: 

Among the iveeds growing along the nail 
The crickets are hiding, as if forsaken. 

From the garden ivet with autumnal showers. 

The yomogi herbs in the garden 
Are beginning to wither from below; 

Autumn is deepening. 

Its colors are fading; 

Not knowing why, my heart is filled with 

The idea of sabi is said to come primarily from renga masters, 
who show great aesthetic appreciation for things suggestive of 
age, desiccation, numbness, chilliness, obscurity — all of which 
are negative feelings opposed to w'armth, the spring, expansive- 
ness, transparency, etc. They are, in fact, feelings growing out of 
poverty and deficiency; but they have also a certain quality lend- 
ing themselves to highly cultivated aesthetic ecstasy. The teamen 
w'ill say that this is "objectively negated but subjectively af- 
firmed,” whereby external emptiness is filled wdth inner richness. 
In some w^ays, ivabi is sabi and sabi is wabi; they are inter- 
changeable terms. 

Shuko ( d. 1502), a disciple of Ikkyu (1394—1481) and tea- 
master to Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1435—90), used to teach his pu- 
pils about the spirit of the tea with this story. A Chinese poet 
happened to compose this couplet: 

In the woods over there deeply buried in snow. 

Last night a few branches of the plum tree burst out in 

He showed it to his friend, who suggested that he alter “a few 
branches” into "one branch.” The author followed the friend’s 
advice, praising him as his "‘teacher of one character.” A solitary 



branch of the plum tree in bloom among the snow-covered woods 
— here is the idea of wabi. 

On another occasion, Shuk5 is reported to have said: “It is 
good to see a fine steed tied in the straw-roofed shed. This being 
so, it also is specially fine to find a rare object of art in an ordi- 
narily furnished room.” This reminds one of the Zen phrase, “To 
fill a monk’s tattered robe with a cool refreshing breeze.” Out- 
wardly there is not a sign of distinction, appearances all go 
against the contents, which are in every way priceless. A life of 
ivabi can then be defined: an inexpressible quiet joy deeply hid- 
den beneath sheer poverty; and it is the art of tea that tries to 
express this idea artistically. 

But if there is anything betraying a trace of insincerity, the 
whole thing is utterly ruined. The priceless contents must be 
there most genuinely, they must be there as if they were never 
there, they must be rather accidentally discovered. In the begin- 
ning there is no suspicion of the presence of anything extraordi- 
nary, yet something attracts — a closer approach, a tentative ex- 
amination. and, behold, a mine of solid gold glitters from among 
the unexpected. But the gold itself remains ever the same, dis- 
covered or not. It retains its reality, that is, its sincerity to itself, 
regardless of accidents. Wabi means to be true to itself. A master 
lives quietly in his unpretentious hut, a friend comes in unex- 
pectedly, tea is served, a fresh spray of flowers is arranged, and 
the visitor enjoys a peaceful afternoon charmed with his con- 
versation and entertainment. Is this not the tea rite in its reality? 

Parenthetically, some may ask: “In these modern times how 
many of us are situated like the teamaster? It is nonsense to 
talk about leisurely entertainment. Let us have bread first, and 
fewer working hours.” Yes, it is true that we have to eat bread in 
the sweat of our face and to wmrk a number of hours as the slave 
of machinery. Our creative impulses have thus been miserably 
downtrodden. It is not, however, just for this reason, I believe, 
that we moderns have lost the taste for leisureliness, that we find 
no room in our worrying hearts for enjoying life in any other 



way than running after excitement for excitement’s sake. The 
question is: How have we come to give ourselves up to such a 
life as to try to keep the inner worries only temporarily sup- 
pressed? How is it that we no longer reflect on life more deeply, 
more seriously, so that we can have a realization of its inmost 
meaning? When this question is settled, let us if necessary negate 
the entire machinery of modern life and start anew. I hope our 
destination is not the continual enslaving of ourselves to material 
wants and comforts. 

Another teamaster writes: “From Amaterasu Omikami ' starts 
the spirit of wabi. Being the great ruler of this country, he 
was free to erect the finest palaces, inlaid with gold and silver 
and precious stones, and nobody would dare to speak ill of him, 
and yet he dwelt in a reed-thatched house and ate unpolished rice. 
In every possible way, besides, he was self-sufficient, modest, and 
ever-striving. He was truly a most excellent teamaster, living a 
life of wabi.” 

It is interesting to see that this writer regards Amaterasu 
Omikami as the representative teaman, who lived a life of ivabi. 
This, however, shows that the tea is the aesthetic appreciation of 
primitive simplicity; in other words, that the tea is an aesthetic 
expression of the longing which most of us seem to feel in the 
depths of our hearts to go as far back to Nature as our human 
existence will permit and to be at one with her. 

Through these statements, the concept of tvabi is, I think, be- 
coming clearer. We can say that, in a way, with Sotan, a grand- 
son of Rikyu, real ivabi life starts. He explains that ivabi is the 
essence of the tea, corresponding to the moral life of the Bud- 

“It is a great mistake, indeed, to make an ostentatious show 
of wabi while inwardly nothing is consonant with it. Such people 
construct a tearoom as far as appearances go with all that is 

The Omikami is really the sun-goddess in Japanese mythology, but the 
writer seems to understand her to be a male deity and, anachronistically, as- 
sociates her with the art of tea. 



needed for wabi; much gold and silver is wasted on the work; 
rare objects of art are purchased with the money realized by the 
sale of their farms — and this just to make a display before vis- 
itors. They think a life of wabi is here. But far from it. W'abi 
means insufhciency of things, inability to fulfill every desire one 
may cherish, generally a life of poverty and dejection. To halt 
despondently in one’s course of life because of his inability to 
push himself forward — this is wabi. But he does not brood over 
the situation. He has learned to be self-sufficient with insuffi- 
ciency of things. He does not seek beyond his means. He has 
ceased to be cognizant of the fact that he is in tight circum- 
stances. If, how'cver, he should still abide with the idea of the 
poverty, insufficiency, or general wretchedness of his condition, 
he would no more be a man of tvabi but a poverty-stricken per- 
son. Those who really know what ivabi is are free from greed, 
violence, anger, indolence, uneasiness, and folly. Thus icabi cor- 
responds to the Paramita of Morality as observed by the Bud- 

In wabi, aestheticism is fused w'ith morality or spirituality, 
and it is for this reason that the teamasters declare the tea to be 
life itself and not merely a thing for pleasure, ho^vever refined 
this may be. Zen is thus directly connected with the tea; indeed, 
most ancient teamasters studied Zen in real earnest and applied 
their attainment in Zen to the art of their profession. 

Religion can sometimes be defined as a way of escape from 
the humdrum of this worldly life. Scholars may object to this, 
saying that religion aspires not to escape but to transcend life 
in order to reach the Absolute or the Infinite. But, practically 
stated, it is an escape where one finds a little time to breathe 
and recuperate. Zen as a spiritual discipline does this, too, but 
as it is too transcendental, as it were, too inaccessible for ordi- 
nary minds, the teamasters who have studied Zen have devised 
the way to put their understanding into practice in the form of 
the art of tea. Probably in this, to a great extent, their aesthetic 
aspirations asserted themselves. 



When wahi is explained as above, readers may think that it 
is more or less a negative quality, and that its enjoyment is 
meant for people who have been a failure in life. This is true in 
some sense, perhaps. But how many of us are really so healthy 
as not to need medicine or a tonic of one kind or another at some 
time in their lives? And then every one of us is destined to pass 
away. Modern psychology gives us many cases of active business- 
men, strong physically and mentally, who will suddenly collapse 
when they retire. Why? Because they have not learned to keep 
their energy in reserve; that is to say, they have never become 
aware of a plan to retreat while still working. Tbe Japanese 
fighting man in those old days of strife and unrest, when he was 
most strenuously engaged in the business of war, realized that 
he could not go on always with nerves at the highest pitch of 
vigilance and that he ought to have a way of escape sometime 
and somewhere. The tea must have given him exactly this. He 
retreated for a while into a quiet corner of his Unconscious, 
symbolized by the tearoom no more than ten feet square. And 
when he came out of it, not only did he feel refreshed in mind 
and body, but very likely his memory was renewed of things of 
more permanent value than mere fighting. 

Thus we see that “tranquillity,” which is the fourth and chief 
factor making up the spirit of the tea, ultimately means a kind of 
aesthetic contemplation of poverty in the Eckhartian sense, which 
the teamen call ivabi or sahi according to the objects to which 
they apply the term.® 

In Part II, I touch on the same subjects, but from a somewhat different 
approach. It is an elaboration of a lecture given in 1954 to a group of the for- 
eign residents of Yokohama. It will help, I hope, make clearer the points I 
have treated of in Part I. 



Zen and the Art of Tea 




T w O Zen-men were discussing Zen. One, named ChSkei 
( Ch’ang-ch’ing Huiding, 853—932 ) , said, "Even a fully en- 
lightened arhat may be proclaimed to be still harboring something 
of the three poisonous passions,' but as to tbe Buddha, he never 
makes an equivocal statement. Whatever he asserts is absolute 
truth. What do you say to this?” 

Hofuku ( Pao-fu Ts’ung-chan, d. 928) asked, “What then is 
the Buddha’s statement?” 

Chokei said, “The deaf cannot hear it.” 

This was criticized by Hofuku: “You are coming down onto a 
secondary level.” 

“What then is the Buddha’s statement according to your judg- 

“Have a cup of tea, 0 my brother-monk.” " 

Tea-drinking is quite an innocent deed, and we practice it in 
our everyday life, especially in the East, but when it is taken up 
by the Zen-men it turns out to be a momentous event that leads 
directly up to Buddhahood and its absolute truth. Ordinary- 
minded people may well wonder how such a transformation could 
take place even by subtle verbal tricks of the Zen masters. But 
the fact is that their world is not the same as the one in which 
ordinary-minded, sense-bound people live. This does not mean 

^ Greed, anger, and folly. 

^ Dentoroku (“Transmission of the Lamp”), fasc. 19, under “Hofuku.” The 
book has never been translated into any other language. 


that a tree is not a tree in one world and is a tree in the other 
world, though there is something almost like this in the Zen 
world. For in the latter what is is at once what is and what is not. 
The mountain confronting us, you and me, is a mountain and 
not a mountain; the pen I hold in my hand is a pen and not a 
pen. The Zen-man sees things from this point of view. To him, 
therefore, the tea-drinking is not just drinking tea; it comes di- 
rectly from and goes deeply down into the roots of existence. 
According to Eckhart, “A flea, as it is in God, ranks above the 
highest angel in himself. Thus, in God all things are equal and 
are God himself.” * 

When Shozan (Sung-shan) the Zen teacher and Ho (P’ang Chii- 
shih) the Zen layman, both of the eighth century (T’ang dy- 
nasty ) , were enjoying tea, Ho raised the takusu ^ and said, “Each 
one of us has his, and why cannot he say something about it?” 

Shozan said, “It is just because each one of us has his that he 
is unable to say something about it.” 

Ho retorted, “How is it then that you seem to be able to say 
something about it?” 

Shozan protested, “One cannot remain without saying some- 

Ho said, “There you are!” 

To these two Zen-men, too, the takusu was not just a takusu, 
it had a far deeper signification than the one we, the ordinary- 
minded, usually attach to it. 

It is for this reason, briefly, that the Japanese make so much 
of tea-drinking, as if it were something mysteriously touching the 
very foundation of reality. In all likelihood it is not “as if” but 
the thing itself, and from the art of tea we have an insight into 
the spirit of Oriental culture. 

^ Meister Eckhart, ed. Pfeiffer, Sermon 96, p. 311. 

* Something like a saucer, but made of wood with a base. The story is from 
the Dentoroku, fasc. 8. 





THE TEA-DRINKING that is known as cha-no-yu in Japanese 
and as “tea ceremony” or “tea cult” in the West is not just drink- 
ing tea, hut involves all the activities leading to it, all the uten- 
sils used in it, the entire atmosphere surrounding the procedure, 
and, last of all, what is really the most important phase, the 
frame of mind or spirit which mysteriously grows out of the 
combination of all these factors. 

The tea-drinking, therefore, is not just drinking tea, but it is 
the art of cultivating what might be called “psychosphere,” ° or 
the psychic atmosphere, or the inner field of consciousness. We 
may say that it is generated within oneself, while sitting in a 
small semi-dark room with a low ceiling, irregularly constructed, 
from handling the tea bowl, which is crudely formed but eloquent 
with the personality of the maker, and from listening to the sound 
of boiling water in the iron kettle over a charcoal fire. Let time 
pass for a while, and as one feels more composed, one begins to 
notice another kind of sound coming from outside the windows. 
It is the water dripping from a bamboo trough that conducts it 
from somewhere on the mountainside. The dripping is neither 
scanty nor excessive, it is just enough to lead the mind to a 
state of tranquil passivity. But the mind is really active to the 
extent that it can fully appreciate the synthetic effect of things 
surrounding the tearoom outside as well as in. 

What constitutes the frame of mind or “psychosphere” thus 
generated here is the realization of the spirit of poverty devoid 
of all forms of dichotomy: subject and object, good and evil, 
right and wrong, honor and disgrace, body and soul, gain and 
loss, and so on. Kyogen Shikan (Hsiang-yen Chih-hsien), a Zen 

That is to say, the structure or pattern of consciousness into which all one's 
psychic activities fall, partaking of the general coloring or tonal quality of 
the structure itself. It corresponds to what is known in Buddhist psychology 
as cittagocara (“mental or consciousness field”). In Chinese, it is ching-chieh 
or ching-ai (both kydgai in Japanese) or simply ching ikyo). 



master of the late T’ang dynasty, gives his idea of poverty {hin 
in Japanese, p’fn in Chinese) in the following stanza: 

Last year’s poverty teas not yet perfect; 

This year’s poverty is absolute. 

In last year’s poverty there was room for the head of a gimlet; 
This year’s poverty has let the gimlet itself disappear.’’ 

The poverty that permits no room for anything, even for the 
point of a needle, is what is known in the philosophy of Praf- 
hdpdramitd (hannya, pan-jo) as “Emptiness” [sunyatd, ku, 
k’ung), and the principle of the tea ceremony is based on it, for 
sabi or uabi ‘ is no other than the aesthetic appreciation of ab- 
solute poverty. 


IN PASSING, it is of interest to note in this connection that 
Meister Eckhart’s notion of poverty (armut) exactly coincides 
with Kyogen’s cited just above. In one of his sermons Eckhart 
refers to one who is “godly poor, for God can find no place in 
him to work in.” “This man is object-free in time and in eter- 
nity. . . . There are two objects: one is otherness, the other is 
a man’s own proper self.” ^ This kind of man who is free of ob- 
jects, that is, free of the dichotomy of subject and object, is an 
“abodeless man” living in Emptiness. “True poverty of spirit 
requires that man shall be emptied of God and all his works, so 
that if God wants to act in the soul, he himself must be the place 
in which he acts.” ” 

It is out of this absolute poverty cherished by Meister Eckhart 
that we also have the philosophy of tea. It is, indeed, out of the 

^ Dentoroku, fasc. 11. 

‘ See above, pp. 284 ff., as to the different uses of these two important terms. 
*Tr. Evans, 1, pp. 122-23. 

° Tr. Blakney, p. 230. 



Emptiness where there is no place {stdtte) not only for God’s 
creatures but for God himself — because the Emptiness is God 
and God is the Emptiness — in other words, out of nowhereness 
and no-time-ness, that J6shu,“ Hofuku, Ho, and the other masters 
of Zen sip their cup of tea. The philosophy of tea is thus the 
philosophy of poverty, of sunyata, or Emptiness. When this is 
understood, we know where the Japanese enjoyment and appre- 
ciation of the tea originates. 


IN THIS respect the ancient Japanese poem by Fujiwara Sa- 
daiye, which is often quoted by the teamen as their motto, is 

As 1 look around. 

No flowers, no maple leaves, 

This fishing village. 

This autumnal eve! 

The desolation, however, is not just a stretch of sand and wil- 
derness; one is not standing against an expanse of illimitable 
sea. For something of spring is already seen awakened behind 
the deserted boats and under the torn dragnets aired along the 

To those who are forever longing for flowers, 

Hoiv 1 wish to point out green patches in the snow. 

Fully expressive of the early spring! 

To an observing and discerning eye, the desolate wilderness of 
the late autumn already promises something of the coming spring, 
and every fallen leaf piling up on the ground, every withering 
blade of grass which had sheltered all forms of the singing in- 
sects, is already seen preparing or renewing life. As Rikyu says. 
See pp. 34 f. 



the water that fills the kettle is drawn from the well of mind 
whose bottom knows no depths, and the Emptiness which is con- 
ceptually liable to be mistaken for sheer nothingness is in fact 
the reservoir (dlaya) of infinite possibilities. In the desolation 
of the late autumn we detect bits of what Seccho ( Hsiieh-tou 
Chung-hsien, 980-1052), Zen poet of the Sung dynasty, sings of: 

The spring mountains covered ivith layers of most variegated 

And the spring streams fancifully laden ivith the reflecting images. 

The teaman sitting alone in his tearoom is the one whom Seccho 
continues to depict as 

Standing by himself betiveen heaven and earth. 

Facing infinitude of beings. 

Primarily, the spirit of tea is aloneness, “the sitting all alone 
at the summit of Mount Mahavira” as stated by Hyakujo. Sake, 
which is thought of as the opposite to tea, is for sociability 
and mostly for conviviality and frequently for boisterousness. 
Tea is aristocratic, sake is democratic. Tea is not so expanding 
and non-individualistic as sake. It is introvert and self-collective. 
Rihaku (Li Po), the great poet of the T'ang, was addicted to 
sake and could not produce his creative poems without its aid. 
When the teaman is inspired his works are concentric or centrip- 
etal, full of contemplative thought. So sake is best imbibed in 
company with sympathetic friends, but tea will be sipped all alone 
in the traditional room, ten or even six feet square, in a secluded 
corner away from the crowded places. 


THE FOLLOWING description of a tearoom is from my article 
on the subject which appeared in The Cultural East (1945): 
“The tearoom is symbolic of certain aspects of Eastern culture, 




especially of Japanese culture. In it we find in a most strongly 
and deeply concentrated form almost all the elements that go to 
make up what is characteristic of the Japanese mind statically 
viewed. As to its dynamic aspects, there are only a few signs be- 
tokening them in the tearoom, where even movements are so 
controlled as to add to the quietude generally prevailing here. 

‘’The room is small and the ceiling not at all high even for the 
stature of an average Japanese. It is devoid of decorations, ex- 
cept in the alcove { toko noma) where a kakemono is hung 
and before which stands a flower vase containing perhaps a sol- 
itary flower not yet in full bloom. As 1 look around, in spite of 
its obvious simplicity the room betrays every mark of thoughtful 
designing: the windows are irregularly inserted; the ceiling is 
not of one pattern; the materials used, simple and unornamented, 
are of various kinds; the room is divided by a post obliquely 
setting off one corner for tea utensils; the floor has a small 
square opening as fireplace where hot water is boiling in an 
artistically-shaped iron kettle. 

“The papered shoji covering the windows admit only soft 
light, shutting off all the direct sunshine, which, when it is too 
strong for the teamen’s sensibility, is further screened by a rus- 
tic sudare hanging just outside one of the windows. As I sit 
here quietly before the fireplace, I become conscious of the burn- 
ing of incense. The odor is singularly nerve-soothing; the fra- 
grant flower produces a contrary effect on the senses. The in- 
cense w'ood, 1 am told, comes from tropical countries, and is 
taken from old trees lying buried for a long time in water. 

“Thus composed in mind, 1 hear a soft breeze passing through 
the needle-leaves of the pine tree; the sound mingles with the 
trickling of water from a bamboo pipe into the stone basin. The 
flow and the breeze are rhythmical and soothing to the mind of 

Tokonoma is a sort of alcove occupying a corner of the room where a hake- 
mono is hung. The principal guest sits before this honored corner. 

A kakemono is a hanging scroll of either painting or calligraphy, which 
decorates the corner. 




the sitter inside the hut. In fact, they stimulate his meditative 
mood to move on to the bedrock of his being.” 

Thus we can see that the spirit of tea is deeply steeped with the 
Prajfid philosophy of Emptiness as taught by Zen. While the 
Emptiness may sound too abstract for the teaman sipping the 
green-colored beverage from a handmade howl, the Emptiness is 
in truth no less than the concreteness of reality itself. It all de- 
pends on how a man looks into the nature of things. If his senses 
are alerted on the plane of relativity only, he can never rise from 
it. The man who sees with the eyes and hears with the ears can- 
not go any further than that. Unless one makes the eyes hear 
and the ears see, he has to stay confined within the senses. It is 
only when he goes out of them that he can achieve miracles by 
plunging into the realm of Emptiness, for Emptiness is the foun- 
tain of infinite possibilities. Daito Kokushi, the founder of Daito- 
kuji, Kyoto, once had this to say: 

If your ears see. 

And eyes hear. 

Not a doubt youll cherish — 

How naturally the rain drips 
From the eaves! 


THIS we can best understand when we know the history of tea. 
Tea was first imported from China to Japan toward the end of 
the twelfth century by a Zen monk, who had studied it in China. 
He brought not only tea seeds but the ceremony the Chinese Zen 

This Sanskrit term is generally translated as “transcendental wisdom.” It 
is a kind of intuitive knowledge in its deepest sense. When this is awakened, 
one has the enlightenment-experience that constitutes the center of Buddhist 




followers performed in offering a cup of tea to their first patri- 
arch, Bodhidharma. Tea then came to be closely associated with 
Zen. In fact, there is something in the taste of tea that connects 
the teaman with the transcendentalism of Zen. As I said before, 
sake leads us to sociability and conviviality, and not infre- 
quently even to the animal exhibition of energy it releases. 

It was in the Ashikaga era that tea-drinking as an art came 
out of the Zen monastery and began to be appreciated by people 
principally of the samurai class. When the Shogunate government 
lost its control over the feudal lords, Oda Nobunaga (1534-82) 
proved the strongest and was on the point of unifying the 
country under his generalship. He encountered a tragic death, 
however, and was succeeded by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98), 
the ablest of his lieutenants. The work of unification was carried 
out by Hideyoshi. Both Hideyoshi and Nobunaga were great pa- 
trons of the art of tea, which had achieved great development 
by that time, especially under Hideyoshi. The man who contrib- 
uted most to this and is properly regarded as the founder of the 
art of tea was Sen no Rikyu (1521-91). 

One might say it was no more than an historical accident, but 
to my mind it was inevitable that the life of Rikyu came to il- 
lustrate all the contradictions and tragedies, the aestheticism and 
heroism, absurdities and rationalities, buried in the abysmal 
depth of Emptiness. Rikyu happened to be born in the period 
of political chaos and disorganization. He belonged to the mer- 
chant class, whose importance was keenly felt by the W'arring 
feudal lords. Gradually and quietly, Rikyu came to perform a 
secret political function in connection with his artistic genius 
and personality. He became in time a great friend of Hideyoshi’s. 
Hideyoshi, who acquired a position of power through his su- 
perior generalship and political sagacity, was in a way a crude 
unlettered warrior, but he seems to have understood the art of 
tea. The strange thing is that, in spite of the utmost strenuousness 
in the atmosphere enveloping the whole Momoyama period, the 
warriors conceived a great taste for tea. They would occasionally 





seclude themselves in the tearoom and, meditatively sipping a 
cup of tea, breathe the air of quietism and transcendentalism. 
Temporarily, at least, their minds would be in the realm of 
Emptiness. Rikyu, great master of the art, seems to have awak- 
ened this spirit in those warlike samurai, who, while to a great 
extent unlettered, were ever ready to look into a world of great 
artistic traditions. On the other hand, Rikyu, though of the mer- 
chant class, came to be influenced by the spirit of the samurai. 
He thus came to symbolize at least one aspect of the Japanese 
life as displayed in the Momoyama period. 

Where power rules, the slightest suspicion of its infringement 
is swept away with utmost swiftness. W^hen Hideyoshi was in- 
formed, falsely or truly, of a supposed intrigue on the part of 
Rikyu, the latter had immediately to submit himself to the des- 
pot’s almighty will; he was to die by his own hand, a privilege 
allowed to an honorable samurai. The last scene is dramatically 
depicted by Okakura Kakuzo (1862-1913), author of The Book 
of Tea, in the following manner (pp. 11-1—16): 

‘‘On the day destined for his self-immolation, Rikyu invited his 
chief disciples to a last tea ceremony. Mournfully at the appointed 
time the guests met at the portico. As they look into the garden 
path the trees seem to shudder, and in the rustling of their leaves 
are heard the whispers of homeless ghosts. Like solemn sentinels 
before the gates of Hades stand the gray stone lanterns. A wave 
of rare incense is wafted from the tearoom; it is the summons 
which bids the guests to enter. One by one they advance and take 
their places. In the tokonoma hangs a kakemono — a wonderful 
writing by an ancient monk dealing with the evanescence of all 
earthly things. The singing kettle, as it boils over the brazier, 
sounds like some cicada pouring forth his woes to departing sum- 
mer. Soon the host enters the room. Each in turn is served with 
tea, and each in turn silently drains his cup, the host last of all. 
According to established etiquette, the chief guest now asks per- 
mission to examine the tea equipage. Rikyu places the various 
articles before them with the kakemono. After all have expressed 




admiration of their beauty, Rikyu presents one of them to each 
of the assembled company as a souvenir. The bowl alone he 
keeps. ‘Never again shall this cup, polluted by the lips of mis- 
fortune, be used by me,’ He speaks, and breaks the vessel into 

‘"The ceremony is over; the guests with difficulty restraining 
their tears take their last farewell and leave the room. One only, 
the nearest and dearest, is requested to remain and witness the 
end. Rikyu then removes his tea gown and carefully folds it upon 
the mat, thereby disclosing the immaculate white death robe 
which it had hitherto concealed. Tenderly he gazes on the shining 
blade of the fatal dagger, and in exquisite verse thus addresses it: 

“W'elcome to thee, 

O sivord of eternity! 

Through Buddha 

And through Dharma alike 

Thou hast cloven thy icay.” 

“With a smile upon his face Rikyu passed forth into the un- 

How would we ever connect the escapism of the art of tea with 
the tragic ending of the teamaster? How could one expect to see 
the solitary sword of Emptiness fly heavenward, killing both Bud- 
dhas and Maras (devils), friends and foes, tyrants and slaves? 
When Hideyoshi once wanted to see Rikyu’s morning-glories. 

This poem in Chinese has given much trouble to followers of Rikyu with 
respect to how properly to understand it. It contains, for one thing, a quotation 
from a Chinese source (the last three lines) which itself is not very clear. I 
have given my rendering under “Rikyu and Other Teamen," p. 319, below. It 
will he interesting for the reader to know that nine years after (1598), Hide- 
yoshi himself had to die in the midst of the Korean campaign, and his swan 
song was: 

Like a dewdrop, settled. 

Like a dewdrop, jading away — 

Alas, this, my life! 

As to the a flairs of Naniwa, 

A dream in a dream! 




Rikyu chopped down all the flowers in the garden; and when 
Hideyoshi entered the tearoom he saw just one single flower in 
the vase — all the rest were sacrificed for the one. And now even 
this One was to be sacrificed by the same hands which mowed 
down the hundred others. But was it really sacrificed? Did it al- 
together disappear from the cultural history of Japan? No, there 
still “stands the one sword glittering cold against the sky.” 


AS I SAID before, the spirit of tea is poverty, solitariness, and 
absolutism, which concretizes the philosophy of Emptiness. When, 
therefore, the tearoom begins to be filled even with a few peo- 
ple, its spirit is violated and some “regulating principles” come 
to be established. As Lao-tzu says, “The great Tao obliterates it- 
self when benevolence and righteousness assert themselves.” The 
tearoom is really reserved for one person who, all by himself, 
sits there with the same spirit which inspired Buddha at his birth 
to exclaim: “Heavens above, heavens below, I alone am the most 
honored one!” When a second person enters, the One splits it- 
self and there starts a dualism out of ivhich we have a world of 
multitudinousness. The tearoom then demands rules whereby 
somehow the original peace is to be preserved. The art of tea, 
or tea ceremony so called, is a degeneration, but this was in fact 
the way the warriors in the Warring Period (1467-1590) 
learned to get a glimpse into a realm of transcendentalism or of 
Emptiness. The tearoom then became a spiritual training station 
and the art a disciplining technique for the samurai. 

Generally, the principles regulating the tearoom are four: 
(1) Harmony (iva), (2) Reverence (kei), (3) Purity isei), 
and (4) Tranquillity {jaku). The first two are social or ethical, 
the third is both physical and psychological, and the fourth is 
spiritual or metaphysical. 

When one goes over these four items, one will see that here 





are represented the four schools of Oriental teaching: Confu- 
cianism is for the first two, Taoism and Shintoism for the third, 
and Buddhism and Taoism for the fourth. 

Harmony, the first, may also be regarded as Taoist, because 
one of its practical teachings is to retain a harmonious relation- 
ship with Nature, that is. between the male and the female prin- 
ciples. It is due to this harmony that the world goes on forever 
ich’ang) without exhausting its energy.’’ The baby may cry all 
day, but it will retain its voice without getting hoarse. The crying 
is apparently no sign of inharmony, according to Lao-tzu. There- 
fore, harmony is called eternity, or infinity 

Harmony is referred to in Prince Shotoku’s “Constitution” ’’ 
as “the thing most estimable.” This is no doubt political, re- 
flecting the state of affairs which existed in his day. 

Purity, the third “principle,” is no doubt Shinto; the hand- 
washing and mouth-rinsing remind us of ablution. But when it 
goes beyond mere superficiality and acquires a deeper sense it 
touches upon Taoism. “Heaven is pure because of its oneness.’”^ 
The purification of the heart is Buddhist. But the art of tea is 
here more concerned with general cleansing and orderliness, 
which tend to make the mind free from unnecessary psycholog- 
ical encumbrances. 

Tranquillity, which is the last “principle” governing the art of 
tea, is the most pregnant one; where this is lacking, the art will 

Tao Te Ching, Ch. 42. 

^^Ibid., Ch. 55. 

Cf. p. 275. Shotoku Taishi, 574-622. “The Constitution” consists of seven- 
teen articles based on Buddhist and Confucian ethics and philosophy. It opens 
with a statement about harmony. The Chinese character for harmony {ho) also 
means “softness” {juan ho ho ti) as was already explained on p. 274. It also 
is **\sarmth” inuan ho ho tl). As a man stands in the soft warm relaxing 
spring breeze, he is to feel much in the same style in the tearoom. In whatever 
sense the compiler of “The Constitution” wished to have na (or ho) understood 
by his subjects, there is no doubt that the teaman's idea of ua is to see a soft, 
tender, conciliatory, yielding atmosphere pervade the room, barring all the 
arrogant, individualistic, self-assertive spirit, so characteristic of modern Japa- 
nese young men. 

Tao Te Ching, Ch. 49. 





lose its significance altogether. For each particular performance 
that goes to a successful conduct of the art is so contrived as to 
create the atmosphere of tranquillity all around. The massing of 
rocks, the trickling of water, the thatched hut, the old pine trees 
sheltering it, the moss-covered stone lantern, the sizzling of the 
kettle water, and the light softly filtering through the paper 
screens — all these are meant uniformly to create a meditative 
frame of mind. But, in reality, the principle of tranquillity is 
something that emanates from one’s inner consciousness as it is 
especially understood in the art of tea. This is where Zen Bud- 
dhism enters and turns the whole situation into an intimate re- 
lationship with the larger sphere of reality. The tearoom is a 
sense organ for the teaman to express himself. He makes every- 
thing in it vibrate with his subjectivity. The man and the room 
become one, and each speaks of the other. Those who walk into 
the room will at once realize it. Here is the art of tea. 

The teaman is generally very sensitive to anything jarring in his 
environment. His nerves are in this respect very well trained, 
indeed, sometimes too well. But to appreciate and enjoy the tea, 
it is not really necessary to be too critical about such things. Let 
the mind be not concerned with details; let it be in a receptive 
frame so as to take in the trickling of the water and the rustling 
of the pine needles, and it will then be able to breathe a spirit 
of tranquillity into all the surrounding objects. Purity may be- 
long to the subject as well as to the object, but tranquillity or 
serenity is a spiritual quality. When the hands are washed and 
the mouth is cleansed, the physical person of the teaman may be 
regarded as purified and fit to enter the tearoom. But this kind of 
purity does not ensure his tranquillity. Environment has a great 
deal to do with the molding of a man's character and tempera- 
ment, but he is also the molder and even the creator of his envi- 
ronment, for man is at once creature and creator. So tranquillity 
is something man adds to his environment from his inner self. 




The tearoom, the roji (garden), the stone basin, the evergreens 
surrounding the hut, may be most meticulously arranged in every 
detail to yield the total effect of tranquillity, and yet the teaman’s 
spirit may be found wandering somewhere else. With this most 
important spiritual quality wanting, the art of tea cannot be any- 
thing but a farce. 


THE ART of tea is a syncretism of all the philosophical thoughts 
that were thriving throughout the Ashikaga (1338-1568), 
the Momoyama ( 1568-1615). and the Tokugawa (1615—1867) 
periods, when the cult attained its highest degree of perfection. 
If Japan did not produce any philosophical system of her own, 
she was original enough to embody in her practical life all that 
could profitably be extracted from Confucianism, Taoism, and 
Buddhism, and to turn them into the material for her spiritual 
enhancement and artistic appreciation. The Japanese, we can 
say, did not develop all the implications of Indian and Chinese 
thought in such a way as to demonstrate their intellectual possi- 
bilities. On the contrary, they strove to melt them into the hum- 
drum of their workaday life, thereby transforming this into some- 
thing enjoyable on a higher artistic plane. The Japanese genius 
so far failed to assert itself on the intellectual and rationalistic 
plane, but can we not say that it was manifested more on the 
side of the art of living? It seems to me that the Japanese are 
great in changing philosophy into art, abstract reasoning into 
life, transcendentalism into empirical immanentism. For this rea- 
son the tearoom can be said to be the syncretism of the three 
great schools of Oriental religio-philosophical thought. The Chi- 
nese mind is differently constructed. When it came in contact 
with the Indian way of thinking as represented in Buddhism, it 
was stirred to the depths of its intellectual powers; it worked out 
on the one hand the philosophy of Kegon {Hua-yen) , Tendai 



(T’ien-t’ai) , and Sanron (San-Iun) ; and on the other hand it 
created the philosophy of the Sung dynasty known as Rigaku 
(Li-hsiieh), which is the Chinese elaboration in response to the 
Zen-Kegon interpretation of Mahayana Buddhist thought. The 
Japanese thinkers so far have not intellectually taken up foreign 
stimulations, though there are ample indications now that prom- 
ise a fruitful future for rationalistic thinking in Japan. Ultra- 
nationalism has unfortunately set a check on the growth of vig- 
orous original thought among the Japanese. Instead of expressing 
themselves by free inquiry and healthy reflection on life itself, 
the Japanese rather sought to escape from the feudalistic op- 
pression by such devices as the No dance, the art of tea, literature, 
and other social and artistic entertainments. The Japanese po- 
litical system, I think, is to be held responsible for the impotence 
or lame development of the Japanese philosophical genius. 


TRANQUILLITY is par excellence Buddhistic. The character 
{jaku in Japanese, chi in Chinese) has a special connotation 
in Buddhism. Originally, and nowadays also, jaku means “to be 
quiet,” or “to be lonely,” but when it is used in the Buddhist 
and especially in the Zen sense, it acquires a deep spiritual sig- 
nificance. It points to a life transcending mere worldliness, 
or to a realm beyond birth and death, which men of pene- 
trating spiritual insight alone are able to inhabit. The Buddhist 
stanza generally found affixed at the end of a Mahayana sutra 

All composite things are impermanent. 

They belong in the realm of birth and death; 

When birth and death is transcended. 

Absolute tranquillity is realized and blessed are we. 

In Buddhism, jaku is generally coupled with metsu ( mieh ) , 
and the combination means “absolute tranquillity.” This is fre- 



quently understood as a state of complete annihilation or of 
absolute nothingness, and Buddhists are criticized for their ni- 
hilism or acosmism. That this is due to the critics’ not having a 
clear enough insight into the deepest recesses of Buddhist thought 
will easily be recognized by all students who have seriously stud- 
ied this subject. This is not, however, the place for this kind of 
discussion, and I will make no further comments on it. 

I have said that the art of tea was discovered as a way of 
escape from feudalistic regimentation, but it may be better to say 
that we all have an innate desire to transcend ourselves, whether 
we are living under a feudalistic political system or in a liberal 
democratic country. In whatever political and social environment 
we may be situated, we are ever seeking a new life which looms 
up before us. Thus urged, we are never satisfied with what we 
actually have, but are forever seeking a new era of culture, and 
for its creation we never relax our efforts. When a new one is 
found not to be in correspondence with our spiritual needs and 
to give us no promise for its future development, it is doomed. 

If the art of tea stopped short at Confucianism and Taoism, 
it would be no more than a mere pastime, a quiet entertainment 
for the bourgeoisie, and we should fail to find in it anything 
contributing to the enhancement of our spiritual life. It was, there- 
fore, up to the teaman to introduce into the art something of 
Buddhist metaphysics. He found it in the Buddhist idea of jaku, 
“tranquillity,” not as an environmental attribute but as an ideal- 
istic disposition which every teaman, if he really desires to 
recover a vision, ought to cultivate. 

Tranquillity, therefore, in the art of tea is a spiritual quality 
transcending birth and death, and not a mere physical or psy- 
chological one. This must carefully be kept in mind when the 
tea is spoken of as a step toward devoting one’s life to a higher 
level from which one is to view our ordinary world and to live in 
it as if not in it. The following is the view on the tea held by 
Seisetsu (1746-1820), a Japanese Zen master of the late Toku- 
gawa era; 

“My Tea is No-tea, which is not No-tea in opposition to Tea. 



What then is this No-tea? When a man enters into the exquisite 
realm of No-tea he will realize that No-tea is no other than the 
Great Way (ta-tao) itself. 

‘■fn this Way there are no fortifications built against birth and 
death, ignorance and enlightenment, right and wrong, assertion 
and negation. To attain a state of no-fortification is the way of 
No-tea. So with things of beauty, nothing can be more beautiful 
than the virtue of No-tea. 

“Here is a story: A monk came to Joshu (Chao-chou Ts’ung- 
shen), who asked, ‘Have you ever been here?’ The monk said, 
‘No, Master.’ Joshu said, ‘Have a cup of tea.’ Another monk 
called, and the master again asked, ‘Have you ever been here?’ 
‘Yes, Master,’ was the answer. The master said, ‘Have a cup of 

“The same ‘cup of tea’ is offered to either monk regardless 
of his former visit to Joshu. How is this? When the meaning of 
such a story as this is understood to its depths, one enters into 
the inner sanctuary of Joshu and will appreciate the bitterness of 
tea tempered with the salt of sweetness. Well, I hear a bell ring- 
ing somewhere.” 


SEiSETSu’s “No-tea” is a mysterious variation of the tea. He 
wants to reach the spirit of the art by the way of negation. This 
is the logic of Prajnd philosophy, which has sometimes been 
adopted by the Zen masters. As long as there is an event des- 
ignated as “Tea” this will obscure our vision and hinder it from 
penetrating into “Tea” as it is in itself. This is particularly the 
case with what may be called the psychology of the tea. When 
a man is all the time conscious of performing the art called tea- 
serving, the very fact of being conscious constrains every move- 
ment of his, ending in his artificially constructing a “fortifica- 
tion.” He always feels himself standing against this formidable 

zenandtheartoftea/ii 311 

thing which starts up a world of opposites, right and wrong, birth 
and death, “Tea” and “No-tea,” ad infinitum. When the teaman 
is caught in these dualistic meshes, he deviates from the Great 
Way, and tranquillity is forever lost. For the art of tea is of the 
Great Way; it is the Great Way itself. 

This transcendentalistic conception of the art of tea is not to be 
understood as something undiscoverable in our prosaic worka- 
day life. To interpret the tea in this light is not in accord with 
its spirit. Tranquillity is at the basis of every movement as the 
teaman takes the powdered tea out of the caddy and stirs it in the 
bowl with a bamboo whisk. Tranquillity is to be dynamically con- 
ceived. Otherwise, it splits the mind in two and makes the tea- 
man sit outside himself: the man and the work are bifurcated 
and the tea ceases to be the “No-tea.” As long as there is any 
consciousness of a split between act and actor, the opposition 
causes friction and friction builds up “fortifications.” Tlie 
Prajfid philosopher would say: “Tea is Tea only when Tea is 
No-tea.” So long as there is any kind of “fortification" there will 
be no “unobstructed flowing.” The principle of tranquillity which 
makes up the art of tea will be violently negated. 

Plotinus has his own way of expressing this idea: “There were 
not two; beholder was one with beheld; it was not a vision com- 
passed but a unity apprehended. The man formed by this mingling 
with the Supreme must — if he only remember — carry its image 
impressed upon him: he is become the Lnity, nothing within him 
or without inducing any diversity; no movement now, no passion, 
no outlooking desire, once this ascent is achieved; reasoning is 
in abeyance and all Intellection and even, to dare the word, the 
very self: caught away, filled with God, he has in perfect still- 
ness attained isolation; all the being calmed, he turns neither to 
this side nor to that, not even inwards to himself; utterly resting 
he has become very rest.” The Plotinian "rest” is no other 
than the teaman’s jaJcii. 

The Bhagavad Gitas way of expressing this is rather strong 
Plotinus, tr. Stephen MacKenna, M, 9, 11. 




and deeply breathes the spirit Rikyu exhaled at his last moment 
by throwing his sword skyward: 

But he whose mind dwells 
Beyond attachment. 

Untainted by ego. 

No act shall bind him 
W ith any bond: 

Though he slay these thousands 
He is no slayer. 

Objectively and relatively speaking, this may stagger some of 
our readers; but we must remember that the author of the Gita 
has his own viewpoint, which evades our intellectually limited 
measurement. Emerson must have been influenced by this when 
he wrote “Brahma,” the first four lines of which run: 

// the red slayer think he slays. 

Or if the slain think he is slain, 

They knoiv not well the subtle ivays 
I keep, and pass, and turn again. 

Why? Because 

Far or forgot to me is near; 

Shadow and sunlight are the same; 

The vanished gods to me appear; 

And one to me are shame and fame. 

Rikyu’s sword that opened up his own bowels is also the one 
that slays Buddhas and patriarchs, saints and sinners, creator 
and created. When the art of tea reaches this height of enlighten- 
ment, the Zen master’s “Tea of No-tea” is realized. 

To quote Eckhart: 

“Then how shall I love him [God]? 

“Love him as he is: a not-God, a not-spirit, a not-person, a 

The Bhagavad Gita, tr. Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood. 
XVHI, 17. 




not-image; as sheer, pure, limpid one, alien from all duality. 
And in this one let us sink down eternally from nothingness to 

If I may add an unnecessary comment, to drink tea as no-tea, 
as recommended by Seisetsu the Japanese Zen master, is no 
other than “to love God as a not-God iniht got) ... to sink 
(versinken) eternally from nothingness to nothingness.” “The 
principle of tranquillity” is to be understood in this sense. 


SOME of my readers may blame me for making a mountain of a 
molehill; “Tea-drinking is a matter of insignificant importance; 
to develop it into something of the highest thought that engages 
the human mind is altogether out of proportion; if we have to 
take up every little incident of life in this fashion, we will not 
have anything enjoyable, free from perplexing and wearing 
thoughts. What has tea-drinking, after all, to do with metaphysics 
of a most annoying sort? Tea is tea and cannot be anything else. 
When we are thirsty we have a cup of it, and that is enough. 
What is the use of making a strange art out of it? Oriental people 
are too fussy. We of the West have no time for such trivialities.” 

Now let me ask; Is a funeral ceremony a more significant 
event than tea-drinking? Has a wedding a more moral or meta- 
physical meaning than tea-drinking? From the point of view of 
“God’s isness” or “a flea’s isness,” death is what inevitably fol- 
lows from birth; there is nothing ominous about it. So with 
marriage. Why then do we make so much of it? If we wanted to, 
it could be reduced easily to the level of eating a morning meal 
or going to one’s business office. We turn it into a grand cere- 
mony because we just want it so. When we think life is too 
monotonous, we break it into several occasions and get some- 
times excited, sometimes depressed. We all like vicissitudes and 
Meister Eckhart, tr. Evans, I, pp. 247-48. 


mutations. hen a universe comes to an end, a Zen monk asks, 
“Does this go with it?” One master replied, “Yes,” while another 
one said, “No.” Which is in the right? “Both are right,” Zen 
would declare, and, so declaring, it will go its own way, cele- 
brating or lamenting its ending, or nonchalantly disregarding 
states of becoming. 

As far as life itself is concerned, time and space are not of 
much consequence, though they are the mediums whereby life 
expresses itself from our human point of view. Our senses 
and intellect are so constructed as to interpret objectivity along 
the line of space and time. For this reason, we are really in- 
terested in quantitative estimates. We think eternity is some- 
thing beyond our sensuous measurements, but from the inner- 
ness of life one minute or one second is just as long, just as 
important, as one thousand years. The morning-glory lasting 
only a few hours of the summer morning is of the same sig- 
nificance as the pine tree whose gnarled trunk defies wintry 
frost. The microscopic creatures are just as much manifesta- 
tions of life as the elephant or the lion. In fact, they have more 
vitality, for even if all the other living forms vanish from 
the surface of the earth, the microbes will be found continuing 
their existence. Who would then deny that when I am sipping 
tea in my tearoom I am swallowing the rvhole universe with it 
and that this very moment of my lifting the bowl to my lips is 
eternity itself transcending time and space? The art of tea 
really teaches us far more than the harmony of things, or keep- 
ing them free from contamination, or just sinking down into a 
state of contemplative tranquillity. 

--The Hekigan-shu (“Blue Rock Collection”), ca^-e 29: “Taizui Hobhin on 
the Unhcr^e.” See ako Appendix T. 



Rikyu and Other Teamen 

I T MAY not be inopportune to give here a very short sketch 
of the life of Sen no Rikyu. He is the founder of the art of 
tea as it is practiced in Japan today, and every teamaster 
gets his or her certificate as qualified for the profession from 
the hands of Rikyu’s descendants. The art of tea in these modern 
days may not transmit exactly the spirit that animated its earlier 
masters, and there may not be so much of Zen in it as in the 
day of Rikyu. This is perhaps inevitable. 

Sen no Rikyu (1521-91) was born the son of a well-to-do 
merchant in Sakai. Sakai, in Idzumi province, was in that day 
a flourishing port for foreign trade, and it was among its wealthy 
merchants that the art of tea seems to have developed first. For 
them it was a form of recreation; as they were rich, they were 
owners of many fine pieces of earthenware, chiefly imported 
from Korea, China, and southern Asia, which they used in con- 
nection with the art of tea. In all likelihood the teaman’s unusual 
penchant for rare objects of art thus started with the merchants 
of Sakai, who in this respect also reflected Ashikaga Yoshimasa's 
aestheticism. Later, I will give a few anecdotes from the history 
of the tea, in which we find illustrated an extraordinary or inor- 
dinate attachment to tea utensils, as shown not only by teamen 
themselves but by the feudal lords of all degrees. They were 
willing to pay exorbitant prices for rare bowls or tea caddies, 
and tbe owners of such w'ares were objects of genuine envy 
among the lords, merchants, and men of culture. 


Rikyu began to learn the art early in his life, and when he 
was about fifty he was universally recognized as one of the 
most accomplished masters in the art. The Emperor Ogimachi 
gave him a special Buddhist name by which he has been known 
ever since in history, that is, Rikyu. Oda Nobunaga was a great 
patron of the art and specially favored Rikyu. After the death 
of Nobunaga. Rikyu came to be befriended by Toyotomi Hide- 
yoshi, who followed Nobunaga and finally succeeded in consoli- 
dating his position as the most influential power, political as 
well as military, in the Japan of that day. Hideyoshi gave him 
three thousand koku of rice for his service to him as teamaster. 
Even in his various campaigns against his military opponents, 
Hideyoshi was accompanied by Rikyu. In those days of unrest, 
the tea was so much a favorite pastime with the feudal lords 
that they could not do without it even while occupied with mili- 
tary affairs. The “tea party"’ was frequently a political camou- 
flage. and one can suspect the important political dealings trans- 
acted by the generals closeted in the four-and-a-half-mat room. 
Rikyu must have been a silent party to this. He was a man 
quite capable of the task. 

Rikyu studied Zen at Daitokuji, one of the “Five Mountains” 
in Kyoto. He knew that the idea of ivahi which he espoused in 
the tea rite v\as derived from Zen, and that without Zen training 
he could not capture the spirit of his art. While he was in actual 
life not a man of uahi, ■■insufficiency, " but one endowed with 
material wealth, political power, and an unusual amount of 
artistic genius, he longed deep in his heart for a life of uahi. 
Circumstances, however, conspired otherwise: in spite of him- 
self he was more and more drawn into worldly entanglements; 
and in some unknown way he incurred the great displeasure of 
his despotic master. He was commanded by Hideyoshi to commit 
suicide. The reasons given out for this capital punishment were 
trivial, and we suspect that there must have been something 
much graver, perhaps political, going on beneath the surface. 

Rikyu was then over seventy. When he received the order. 



he retired to his room, made his last tea. quietly enjoyed it. and 
wrote his farewell words in both Chinese and Japanese. The 
Chinese verse, roughly translated, is; 

Seventy years of life — 

Ha ha! and it hat a fuss! 

With this sacred sivord of mine. 

Both Buddhas and Patriarchs I kill! ^ 

The Japanese runs: 

/ raise the sword. 

This sword of mine, 

Lon^ in my possession — 

The time is come at last — 

Skyward 1 throw it up! 

This tragic death, closing a brilliant life devoted to tlie tea 
and the idealization of wabi, took jdace on the twenty-eiglilh day 
of the second month in the nineteenth year of Tensho I loOl). 

The following stories told of Rikyu. whctlier historical or 
fictional, are interesting, and they shed light on tlie character 
of the man. 


WHEN Hideyoshi learned of the beautifully blooming morning- 
glories at Rikyu’s, he intimated his wish to see them. hen the 
next morning Hideyoshi entered Rikyu's garden, there was not a 
mornina-glory — not a shadow of one. He thought this was strange 
but did not say anything about it. hen he stepped into the tea- 
room. lo and behold, there was one solitary flowering morning- 

^ See above, p. 303. for Okakura’s ^ersion, Tvliich is eviilently based on a 
different text. 




ONE DAY Hideyoshi, wishing to outwit Rikyu, brought out a 
gold basin filled with fresh water and a spray of plum blossoms, 
and requested Rikyu to arrange it. Rikyu without a moment’s 
hesitation took up the spray in his hands and. scraping the 
blossoms, let them fall pell-mell into the basin. Buds and full- 
blown flowers scattered against the gold presented a most beauti- 
ful sight. 


WHEN, one day in the spring. Hideyoshi was entertained by 
Rikyu. he was shown to a small room, one mat and three-quarters 
wide, which is in modern measurement less than six feet square. 
As he was about to enter, he noticed some full-blown branches of 
drooping cherry blossoms hanging from a vase suspended from 
the ceiling. The flowers filled the room even up to the entrance 
opening. This pleased Hideyoshi very much; for, in spite of his 
liking for the tea. he was secretly inclined toward luxurious 
extravagances. He stayed outside for a while admiring the gor- 
geous flowering cherry blossoms, which literally filled the room. 


WHEN Rikyu was still apprentice at the art of tea, his master 
told him to sweep the roji — the court attached to the tearoom. 
The roji had already been swept clean by the master himself. 
When Rikyu came out, not a speck of dust was to be found, but 
he at once read the master’s mind. Shaking a tree a little, he 
let a few leaves fall on the ground. This pleased the master. 




RIKYU had a mind extremely sensitive to beauty from the 
point of view of icabi or sabi. He detected the smallest thing 
that went against it. When Rikyu was invited to a first winter tea 
party somewhere, he was accompanied by his son-in-law. When 
they stepped into the court, they noticed the gate hung with 
an ancient-looking door. The son-in-law remarked that it savored 
highly of sabi. But Rikyu smiled somewhat sarcastically: ‘‘This 
is far from savoring of sabi. my son; it is on the contrary a most 
expensive piece of work. Look here closely. Such a door as this 
is not to be found in this vicinity. It must have come from a re- 
mote mountain temple far away from the human world. Think of 
the amount of labor to bring it here, for which the master must 
have paid dearly. If he had understood what genuine sabi is, 
he would have searched for a suitable door ready-made or 
made to order among the neighboring dealers, and would have 
had it pieced together with an old board found about his premises. 
Then the door fixed here would certainly savor of iiabi. The 
taste shown before us is not a genuine one.” It was thus the 
son-in-law was taught the art in a practical way. 


RIKYU attended a cha-no-yu given by his eldest son. When he 
stood in the roji, he said to the friend accompanying him, 
“Among these steppingstones there is one just a trifle higher 
than the rest. My son does not seem to have noticed it.” This 
remark was overheard by his son. who said to himself, “I have 
been thinking of it myself for some time. What a quick intuitive 
mind is my father’s!" While the guests were taking a little rest 
after the first tea, Rikyu’s son quietly slipped out to the roji 
and. digging a little underneath the stone in question, set it down 



to the proper level. To conceal the new work, he sprinkled fresh 
water around. Later, when Rikyu again went over the stepping- 
stones on his way home, the alteration done with all subtlety 
did not escape his eye, for he remarked. ell, well! Do-an 
[which was his son’s name] must have overheard my criticism, 
but how readily he took it to his heart and remedied it even 
before our departure!” 


RIKYU was once invited to tea, accompanied by a few friends. 
They found the court fdled with splendid kashi trees and the 
passage covered with fallen leaves, and they felt as if they were 
walking on a mountain pass. ‘*How fine!” Rikyu said. After a 
little reflection, however, he continued, ‘T am afraid that the 
master will sweep the passage clean, as he has yet no idea about 
sabi.” Surely enough, when they went in again after the first 
service, they found that the leaves were all too completely swept 
up. Rikyu then explained to his friends how things were to be 
arranged on such occasions. Later, i\hile instructing one of his 
pupils in the care of the roji. he quoted the following verse by 
Saigyo as expressing his notion of it: 

Leaves of the kashi trees. 

Even before they were tinged. 

Are all scattered 
Along the path to the mountain 
monastery — 

Along the path, lone and desolate. 

( That rocks and mosses and lichens are among the chief 
features of Japanese gardening, especially of that connected with 
the tearoom, is noteworthy; for they are suggestive of the Zen 
monk’s life in the mountains and of the principle of sabi, which 
rules everything associated with the art of tea. The use of 



stones as they come from mountains, valleys, riverbeds, and 
other localities adds a great deal to the atmosphere of solidity, 
solitude, and ancientness pervading the roji. The moss, in large 
variety, covering the rocks and the ground, creates a feeling of 
the mountainous region far away from the life of the city. This 
feeling is essential to the tearoom, for the main object of the 
tea is to escape from commercialism and all that savors of it. ) 


THAT Rikyu was the authority on icahi is shown in the following 
story. A teaman of Sakai owned a caddy of a special pattern 
entitled ‘‘Unzan Katatsuki." As the ware was quite well known 
among teamen and prized by them, the owner was naturally 
proud of it. One day he invited Rikyu to tea and used this 
caddy. But Rikyu did not seem to be very much concerned about 
it and left the house with no comments. The owner was upset 
over this, and immediately broke it to pieces by striking it 
against the gotoku, and sighed, "What is the use of keeping 
these days an article not at all approved of by Rikyu?” 

A friend of the owner's later collected the broken pieces of 
the caddy and glued them together carefully so as to restore 
the original pattern. The work was done with a great deal of 
skill, and he thought the mended caddy was after all not a poor 
specimen. He conceived the idea of inviting Rikyu to tea and 
using the caddy again to see what Rikyu would say about it. 

While the tea was being served, Rikyu’s keen eye at once 
detected the same old caddy now pieced together. He said. 'Ts 
this not the same caddy I saw elsewhere some time ago? W hen 
it is repaired like this, it has really turned into a piece of icabi.” 
The friend was exceedingly pleased with the remark and re- 
turned the caddy to its former owner. 

After changing owners many times, this once-broken and now 
perfectly pieced-together ‘‘Katatsuki” fell into the hands of a 



certain feudal lord. Kyogoku Anchi. one of the most famed tea- 
men in Kyoto in those days, fancied it very much. A physician- 
friend of his. learning of it, visited the lord, and apparently quite 
accidentally referred to the wish of Kyogoku Anchi to have the 
caddy. The lord was amused and jokingly said, “If he is willing 
to pay two loads of gold for it, I may part with it.” 

The physician took this seriously and reported the matter 
to Anchi, who said, “If that is the case, I wish you would see to 
it that I have it for two loads of gold.” 

When the lord was notified of Anchi’s readiness to pay the 
gold, he was thunderstruck and said. “From the first I had no 
intention to part with it for whatever amount of money one 
might pay for it.” This confused the matter. The physician, who 
voluntarily acted as a go-between, did not know what to do. 
There was much going back and forth between Anchi and the 
lord. Each of the parties concerned, taking it up as affecting 
his sense of honor, assumed a stiffer attitude than ever toward 
the affair. All the teamen became interested in it, and extended 
their good offices to smooth the complications. By means of 
great diplomacy they finally succeeded in making the arrange- 
ment that two loads of gold would be paid to the lord by the 
other party, not indeed as the price for the disputed treasure, 
but as a kind of relief fund for the poor and needy in the feudal 
estate of the lord, and that the treasure itself would be a free 
gift from the lord to Anchi. Two loads of gold w'ere equivalent 
in the currency of the time to 12.000 ryo, which must be in 
modern money at least 100.000 yen.' 

Anchi was perfectly satisfied with the way the matter was 
settled, though this no doubt meant a great cut into his own 
exchequer. He was not. however, quite satisfied with the caddy 
itself, for he thought he could improve on the way it was 
patched. He consulted with Kobori Yenshu, another great tea- 
master and authority of the time, as to replacing certain pieces. 
But Kobori Yenshu was a wiser critic and said, “It was just 

“ Today, nearly $30,000. 



because of those oddities that it appealed to Rikyu so much and 
became an object of reputation among the teamasters. You 
would do best to leave them exactly as they stand.” 


IN JAPANESE architecture the alcove (tokonoma) performs 
a significant office in various ways. This recess cut into the 
wall of a principal room originally comes from Zen architec- 
ture, where it was meant for a sacred picture or statue. Nowadays 
any kakemono may be found here, hut the presence of a flower 
vase and a censer in the alcove still tells its former history. In 
any event, the flower vase is an essential feature of the toko- 
noma, and no tearoom is complete without it. When Toyotomi 
Hideyoshi was engaged in besieging the Odawara castle com- 
manded by Hojo, the latter offered a stubborn resistance, and 
some months passed without achieving much. Hideyoshi wanted 
to have tea parties by way of recreation for his generals. But 
there was no available flower vase for the room. He told Rikyu 
to get one. Rikyu thought of making one out of a stalk of 
bamboo; this was quite an original idea with him. for hitherto 
no vases of this kind had ever been devised and put into prac- 
tical use. He visited the neighboring bamboo groves to find 
suitable material, which found, he made into a vase himself. 
As the bamboo dried, it showed a crack, and this crack became 
the characteristic mark of the vase, and it has been known ever 
since as the “Onjoji vase.” The Onjoji is an historical Buddhist 
temple by Lake Biwa, and its bell has earned its reputation from 
having a crack in it. It was due to this coincidence that Rikyu's 
vase acquired its name. 

Rikyu's homely-looking bamboo vase became a sacred treasure 
among teamen, not only because of its artistic value but be- 
cause of its historical associations. When its envied owner was 
lyehara Jisen, his friend Nomura Soji. of Nagoya, came up 



to Kyoto with the special object of viewing the vase. Jisen, how- 
ever, refused and asked him to wait for a year. In the meantime, 
Jisen busied himself with constructing a new tearoom in which 
no bamboo was used in any form. The vase in the tokonoma 
was the only bamboo in sight. Soji was then invited and shown 
the treasure in a most appropriate setting. When Soji’s request 
to see it the year before had been refused, he was chagrined, 
but when he saw what was then in the mind of his friend, he 
felt grateful and fully appreciated his artistic attitude of reverence 
for Rikyu and his work. 

Fuyuki, a rich merchant of Fukagawa. Yedo, wished to ac- 
quire the vase for his own tearoom, but Jisen would not part 
with it. Later, when Jisen found himself in adverse circum- 
stances, he thought of Fuyuki, who was once willing to pay 
500 rr<5 for the bamboo vase, and sent a messenger to Yedo 
with the message that Jisen would sell it now for 50 ryd less, that 
is, for 450 ryo. Fuyuki sent his messenger back with no answer, 
but ordered his own messenger to follow Jisen's, carrying 500 ryo 
instead of 450 ryo. Fuyuki's messenger respectfully carried the 
vase back with him to Yedo. The idea was not to slight the 
value of such a treasure, but. apart from the commercial in- 
terests, to treat it with due respect. 

Then, still later, its ownership went to Lord Fumai (1751— 
1819), another feudal baron of the Tokugawa regime, who 
loved the tea cult and had very fine taste for sabi. When he was 
using the vase in his tearoom to entertain his friends, his at- 
tendant noticed that water dripped from the crack, thus wetting 
the mat underneath. He asked the master if he would not have 
a kind of cylindrical receptacle made for it. Lord Fumai, how- 
ever, said, “The furyu [or sabi] of this bamboo vase consists in 
the very fact of this leakage.” 





KANO T ANN YU the painter (1602—74) is a name I believe 
to be very well known to lovers of Japanese art, and it may not 
be altogether inappropriate to introduce him in connection with 
the tea, as he was also greatly interested in it. He studied it 
under the instruction of Sotan, grandson of Rikyu and a great 
advocate of ivabi, probably in this respect greater than Rikyu. 
Tannyu was still young when he began to visit Sotan, hardly 
over twenty years of age. When he saw the blank screens fitted 
up in Sotan’s newly built tearoom, he had an irresistible desire 
to paint them with his own brush. But his teamaster would not 
listen to the request, for he thought his young pupil was still 
not experienced enough to do the work. Tannyu did not press 
the idea that day. 

Some time later, he accidentally dropped into Sotan's new 
room. The master was absent. The screens still remained blank. 
He considered the opportunity the rarest one. as his former am- 
bition asserted itself once more. In fact, he had been planning 
for some time what picture would be suitable to try his skill here. 
He took out the brushes and started at once with his work. It 
was to be “The Eight Sage Drinkers.” As he proceeded, he 
grew ever more enthusiastic about it, and the picture was nearly 
finished when he heard somebody approaching. He felt that this 
must be the master himself. It would be quite awkward if he 
were caught in the act. He wanted to finish hurriedly. The 
steps became more and more distinct. \^liat remained to be done 
now was the hands of one figure. He somehow finished them 
and left the room as Sotan stepped into it. Sotan was surprised 
to see such a fine work from the brush of such a young artist, 
whose proficiency he had not thought very highly of before. 
However, as he examined the work closely, he found the hands 
of one figure wrongly attached, that is, the left hand to the right 
and the right one to the left. But he did not say much about it. 


The picture remains there as it was executed even to the pres- 
ent day. 

Later when Tannyu’s reputation as the greatest painter of 
the day, the one favored by lyeyasu the Shogun, spread far and 
wide throughout the country, his old picture with hands wrongly 
adjusted called out fresh interest among art lovers. 

Tannyu owned a “Katatsuki” caddy known as “Tanemura,” 
an object of great admiration among teamen. He thought the 
world of it. When the great fire of the Meireki (a.d. 1657) re- 
duced Tannyu’s house to ashes, he told one of his servants to 
carry the caddy away from destruction. But when the spread of 
the fire threatened his own life, the trusted servant threw 
away the precious treasure and ran off to save himself. After 
the fire, a goods carrier from Kyoto happened to discover it 
on the roadside. He picked it up and on his return to Kyoto he 
sold it to an art dealer. The Mayor Makino Chikashige heard 
of the find and bought it from the dealer, when it proved on 
examination to be the “Tanemura Katatsuki.” 

Some time later Chikashige invited Tannyu and treated him 
to tea. When he innocently referred to the caddy Tannyu told 
him that he was unspeakably grieved over the loss and wished 
him not to make any further mention of it. Chikashige told his 
attendant to bring the article in question before the guest, re- 
marking guilelessly. “Here is a Tanemura duplicate.” Tannyu 
was indeed overjoyed and did not know how to express his feel- 
ings. The mayor was gallant enough to part with it for the price 
he paid to the dealer, with the request that he would like to 
have twelve views of Mount Fuji painted by Tannyu to com- 
pensate his good will. Tannyu, of course, agreed. But it was a 
difficult proposition, and the painter had to spend much thought 
and skill upon the execution of the pictures, which, when finished 
after great pains, proved to be among his masterpieces. 


Love of Natur 



T he JAPANESE love of Nature, I often think, owes much 
to the presence of Mount Fuji in the niicklle part of the main 
island of Japan. Whenever I pass by the foot of the mountain 
as a passenger on the Tokaido railway line, I never fail to have 
a good view of it, weather permitting, and to admire its beautiful 
formation, always covered with spotless snow and “rising sky- 
wards like a white upturned folding fan," as it was once de- 
scribed by a poet ^ of the Tokugawa period. The feeling it 
awakens does not seem to be all aesthetic in the line of the 
artistically beautiful. There is something about it spiritually pure 
and enhancing. 

One ■ of the earlier poets of Japan who sang of Mount 
Fuji has this: 

To the beach of Togo 
I come, and, behold. 

In pure ivhiteness enveloped 
There rises Mount Fuji — 

Snowing it seems above us! ’ 

^ Ishikawa Jozan ( 1583-1672 1 . 

- Yamabe no Akahilo id. ca. 736) in the Mannyoshu, ‘'Collection of Ancient 

^ As I have remarked before, in these translations of Japane■^e poetry no 
attempt is made to reproduce the original rhythm. They are mostly literal nm- 
dering'i. with the fewest additions necessary to make the sense somewhat more 
intelligible to English readers. 




Another poet,^ who has more religious feelings than Akahito 
of the Nara period, sings in the Mannyoshu: 

Extending over Suruga and Kai, 

Mount Fuji lifts its summit high. 

Even the clouds of heaven, struck with awe, 

Dare not pass over that steep peak; 

Even the birds attempt in vain 
To soar over its giddy heights. 

It is a god that Hatches over Japan — 

Over Yamato, the Land of the Sunrise — 

It is her sacred treasure and her glory: 

Upon the peak of Fuji in Suruga 

Long may we gaze and gaze and never weary. 

Saigyo’s poem on Fuji has a mystical vein which is quoted 
elsewhere. In his day, that is, in the twelfth century, Fuji must 
still have been a live volcano, at least emitting smoke now and 
then. Such a sight is alw'ays inspiring. To see a solitary drifting 
cloud over a high peak carries one’s thoughts away from earthly 

It was not the poets alone who were impressed with Fuji. 
Even a w’arrior had a feeling for it, expressing himself thus: 

Each time I see Fuji 
It appears changed 
And I feel I view it 
Ever for the first time. 

How shall I describe Fuji 
To those tvho have not yet seen it? 

It is never seen twice alike. 

And I know no one way 
Of describing the sight. 

^Anonymous (in the Mannyoshu, V, III), also of the Nara period. The 
translation (slightly modified) is by Asataro Miyamoto. 



The singer is Date Masamune ” (1565-1636), one of the 
most renowned generals at the time of Hideyoshi and lyeyasu. 
He was a dauntless fighter, winning many fierce battles in which 
he personally took part. He was made the feudal lord of the 
district of Sendai, which is in the northeastern section of Japan. 
Who would imagine such an active soldier in the warlike days 
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries finding room in 
his brain to appreciate Nature and write poems on it? But such 
was actually the fact, and in it we recognize how innate the love 
of Nature is in the Japanese heart. Even Hidevoshi, who rose 
from the peasant class — in his days a class l)adly downtrodden 
and hopelessly ignorant — composed poems and was a patron of 
the arts. His time is known as the Momo\ama period in the 
history of Japanese art. 

Fuji is now thoroughly identified with Japan. Wherever Japan 
is talked or written about, Fuji is inevitably mentioned. Justifi- 
ably so, because even the Fand of the Rising Sun would surely 
lose much of her beauty if the sacred mountain were erased 
from the map. The mountain must be actually seen in order to 
impress. Pictures and photographs, however artistic, cannot do 
justice to the real view. As Masamune sings, it is never the same, 
it is ever changing in its features, as it is affected by atmospheric 
conditions, and also as it is viewed topographically from different 
angles and at different distances. To those who have never seen 
it, even Hiroshige (1797—1858) fails to convey the real artistic 
value of the mountain, about which Yamaoka Tesshu I 1836- 
88 ) ’ writes another poem from another point of view than 

^ He i?* well remembered in Japanese history as the one who sent an envoy 
to the Pope in 1613. 

^ It is possible that the poem is not Tesshu's original compo-^itiun. But I 
remember having read it among his iiinumerabh* ealliaraphic works. He Mas 
not a poet by proft^s-ion : he was one tif the areat modern <iword'men, who 
deeply dehed into the «tudy of Zen and applied his understanding to swords- 
manship. See also pp. 193 ff., above. 




In fair weather. 

In cloudy weather. 

Beautiful indeed 
And never changing — 

This peak of Fuji! 

In these prosaic days of ours, there is a craze among the 
young men of Japan for climbing high mountains just for the 
sake of climbing; and they call this ‘"conquering the mountains.” 
What a desecration! This is a fashion no doubt imported from 
the W'est along with many others not always worth while 
learning. The idea of the so-called “conquest of nature” comes 
from Hellenism, I imagine, in which the earth is made to be 
man’s servant, and the winds and the sea are to obey him. 
Hebraism concurs with this view, too. In the East, however, this 
idea of subjecting Nature to the commands or service of man 
according to his selfish desires has never been cherished. For 
Nature to us has never been uncharitable, it is not a kind of 
enemy to be brought under man’s power. W'e of the Orient have 
never conceived Nature in the form of an opposing power. On 
the contrary. Nature has been our constant friend and companion, 
who is to be absolutely trusted in spite of the frequent earth- 
quakes assailing this land of ours. The idea of conquest is 
abhorrent. If we succeed in climbing a high mountain, why not 
say, e have made a good friend of it”? To look around for 
objects to conquer is not the Oriental attitude toward Nature.^ 

Yes, we climb Fuji, too, but the purpose is not to “conquer” it, 
but to be impressed with its beauty, grandeur, and aloofness; it 
is also to worship a sublime morning sun rising gorgeously 
from behind the multicolored clouds. This is not necessarily an 
act of sun worship, though there is nothing spiritually degrading 
in that. The sun is the great benefactor of all life on earth, and 
it is only proper for us human beings to approach a benefactor 

” Cf. my article “The Role of Nature in Zen Buddhism,” in Studies in Zen, 
pp. 176 ff. 




of any kind, animate or inanimate, with a deep feeling of grati- 
tude and appreciation. For this feeling is granted to us only; 
lower animals seem to be wanting in this delicate sentiment. 
Some of the high mountains of popular interest in Japan are 
nowadays provided with a system of cable railway, and the 
summit is easily reached. The materialistic utilitarianism of 
modern life demands all such contrivances, and perhaps there 
is no escape from them; for I myself often resort to them, for 
instance, when I go up to Hiei in Kyoto. Nevertheless my feel- 
ings are revolted. The sight of the track lighted up at night by 
electricity reflects the modern spirit of sordid gain and pleasure- 
hunting. That Mount Hiei. to the northeast of the ancient capital 
of Japan, which Dengyo Daishi (767-822) first consecrated 
with his Tendai monastery and other institutions ® of his order, 
is to be treated with such ruthless commercialism is no doubt a 
cause of grief to many a pious-hearted countryman. In tlie wor- 
shipful attitude toward Nature there is a highly religious feeling 
that I should like to see even in these days of science and 
economics and war. 


ONE may see how much in love with Nature the Japanese is, in 
spite of his modern assertion of the conquest idea, if he builds 
a study, or rather a meditation room, somewhere in the mountain 
woods. It is not much of a building by the Western way of 
measurement, for it will be no more than a four-and-a-half-mat 
or six-mat room (about ten or fifteen feet square). It is thatched 
with straw, and it probably stands under a huge pine tree, pro- 
tected by its outstretched branches. When viewed from a 

^ Recentlv (1956). one of the buildings (called the “Lecture Hall") making 
up the group iva^ burned inaheiouily by one of the caretakers. This is an ir- 
reparable loss not only to the followers of Tendai but to the cultural history of 
Japan. The inrident is one of the bad examples reflecting the modern spirit of 
wanton xandalism. 



distance, the hut forms an insignificant part of the landscape, but 
it appears to be incorporated in it. It is by no means obtrusive, 
it belongs someho^v to the general scheme of the view. As the 
master sits in this simple room — where there are no cumbrous 
pieces of furniture, perhaps only a table, a cushion, a flower 
vase, an incense burner — he finds that it is in no special way 
separated from the surroundings, from Nature that encircles the 
hut. A cluster of plantain trees is growing near one of the oddly 
shaped windows: some of their broad leaves are irregularly torn 
by a recent storm, and now they look like a monk’s robe all in 
tatters. And for this reason they appear more suggestive of the 
Zen poems of Kanzan.*^ It is not only the formation of these 
leaves which is poetic, but the way they — in fact, all plants — 
grow out of the earth, that makes the observer feel that he, too, 
is li\ing the life they are living. The floor of the meditation 
room is not raised too far from the ground, just enough to keep 
the occupant from dampness and yet to feel the common source 
from which all life shoots forth. 

A hut so constructed is an integral part of Nature, and he who 
sits here is one of its objects like every other. He is in no way 
different from the birds singing, the insects buzzing, the leaves 
swaying, the craters murmuring — nor even from iMount Fuji, 
looming up on tlie other side of the bay. Here is a complete 
merging of Nature and man and his work, illustrated in a practi- 
cal manner. As I speak of Fuji again. I am reminded of a poem 
by Ota Dokwan (d. 1186), a general of the fifteenth century. 

lien he was asked by the Emperor Gotsuchimikado as to his 
residence, the general answered in verse: 

My hut is on the beach 
Lined with pine trees. 

And the hiirh peak of Fuji 
Looms up above the eaves. 

Han-'han, a lunatic monk (if the T‘an^' (Kria^ty. He ^va- always in com- 
pany with Jittoku (Shih'tei and left many poem^. Cf. pi-. 6. 18, 19. and p. 25, 
abo\ c. 



The emperor living in Kyoto had never seen the mountain in 
actuality, hence the poet-soldier’s special reference to it. And is 
it not interesting to notice here the way he describes his residence 
as a hut iihori or iho in Japanese)? Being the warrior-general 
who first established his headquarters at the present site of 
Tokyo before lyeyasu had his grand castle, Ota Dokwan’s resi- 
dence must have been of no mean magnitude. Yet he describes it 
as an ihori, with which we ordinarily associate the humble 
straw-thatched cottage of a recluse. His poetical, nature-loving 
spirit revolted against anything highly savoring of human arti- 
ficiality. His “hut” naturally fits in with the stretch of pine 
trees, the wave-washed beach, and the snow-covered Fuji. In 
this respect, Dokwan truly reflects the love of Nature that is the 
predominant note in the Japanese character.*" 

A grandly constructed building ** is too obtrusive an object 

I sometimes wonder if any of the great Western soldiers ever turned into a 
poet. Can we imagine, for instance, in recent times, that General MacArthur 
or General Eisenhower ^\ould compose a poem upon visiting one of those bomb- 
torn cities? General Nogi, of the Russo-Japanese war, after a great battle 
fought around Port Arthur, in which he lost his two sons, wrote this poem in 
Chinese : 

Hoiv dreary and unconwiable they look — mountains and 
rivers, trees and grasses. 

The battlefield, neicly won, for as much as ten miles around, 
is filled with an atmosphere odorous of spilt blood. 

The steed refuses to move on and the man, grim and silent. 

Stands all alone outside the fortress of Chinchoiv in the 
shadow of the setting sun. 

The American liking for high buildings i<5 no doubt economically necessi- 
tated and, I believe, in some cases topographically also. But I suspect there is a 
certain psychological element in this fondnc-^s for tall architecture of any kind. 
Fundamentally, it is the desire to free oneself from the earth, for in one sense 
the earth symbolizes bondage, constriction, enthrallment, restraint of whatever 
kind from freedom and independence. In reality, one can never be free from 
the earth, for however high one may fly, one has finally to come down to earth. 
But since the development of the intellectual powers, man has conceived the 
idea of pu-hing this as far as it can go even at the expense of his other and pos- 
sibly weightier interests. The towering architecture is the symbolization of the 
intellect, and modern man has forgotten or is as yet unconscious of the fact that 
this intelleetualization is one of the causes contributing to all sorts of mental 
disturbance that we see about us. "^'hen I was in Chicago recently. I met the 




to keep company with the surrounding objects of Nature. From 
the practical point of view, it may serve its purpose well, but 
there is no poetry in it. Any artificial construction, with its ob- 
ject too prominent, detracts from its artistic value. It is only 
when it is in ruins and no more serves its original purpose that 
it is transformed into a object of Nature and appreciated as such, 
though even in this appreciation there is much that has to do 
with the historical significance of the ruins themselves. 

Again, the Emperor Gotsuchimikado must have heard of the 
Musashino prairie, where Dokwan had his castle. Japan is a 
mountainous country with few plains, and the Musashino, 
where now stands the capital of the country, is one of the largest. 
The emperor, who had probably never left his mountain-en- 
circled Kyoto, was curious to know how wide the Musashino 
was. So he asked Dokwan about it, and Dokwan replied in verse: 

No deu drops are seen around my hut, 

Though a summer shower has just passed 
Over the plain of Musashino — 

Far wider it must be than the rain clouds. 

This pleased the emperor immensely, and he gave the follow- 
ing reply to the much talented warrior-poet from the wild East: 

I thought the Musashino was only a prairie 
With nothing but wild thistles; 

How pleasantly surprised I am 
To find such icords in bloom! 

architect of a tall modern building, who lives on the top floor of the same 
budding. hen I admired the fine views of the city and the lake it commands, 
for the room i- well provided with large glass windows, the architect said, 
“That is true, but I have to confess that I have a feeling of insecurity, though 
I don't know why." The feeling of insecurity — is this not the ailment most mod- 
ern people suffer from, not only socially but internationally? The intellect 
pres-cs the button, tlie whole city is destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of 
human souls are crushed ignominiously to the ground. And the intellect will not 
have any compunction whatever. All is done mechanically, logically, systemati- 
cally, and the intellect is perfectly satisfied, perhaps even when it destroys itself 
together with its victims. Is it not high time for us all to think of ourselves from 
another point of view than that of mere intellectuality? Do we not have to be 
much closer to the earth, where the nature lover’s hut humhly stands? 



Dokwan is one of the most popular heroes with the Japanese. 
Unfortunately, he lived in the age when the Ashikaga Sho- 
gunate was fast approaching its end, and the country was on 
the verge of general disorder. Dokwan was cravenly assassinated 
with a spear by his treacherous enemy. His farewell song was: 

Until yesterday this body of mine. 

Like a henamushi bag, 

Was the depository of ii rong attachments— 

Is it now for the last time burst? 


THE POET-GENERAL Ota Dokwan was fortunate to enjoy 
the mountain in white snow against the foaming waves of the 
blue ocean; but the hearts of the host and hostess of the dilapi- 
dated Ugetsu hut were torn between the moon and the autumnal 
rain drops, and they were greatly puzzled, not knowing what to 
do. Yet, in this not knowing what to do with the hut — this time a 
really humble one — we recognize as much poetry as in the 
case of Dokwan, perhaps more of it. The Japanese love of Nature 
is here graphically depicted. The story, in short, runs as follows: 

Ugetsu, meaning “Rain and Moon,” is one of the No plays 
adapted from an incident taking place in one of Saigyo’s wan- 
derings in Japan. Saigyo (1118—90), the monk-poet of the early 
Kamakura period, came one evening to a solitary house and 
asked for a night’s lodging. An old couple was living there, and 
the house looked quite dilapidated. The old man refused to re- 
spond to the monk’s request on the ground that the accommoda- 
tions were not good enough for him; while his wife, seeing the 
traveler was a Buddhist monk, wished to give him lodging. But 
the fact remained the same: the hut Avas in no proper condition 
to entertain a stranger. The reason was this: The old lady loved 

I do not know exactly what this means. It is probably a slang word used 
among warriors in fifteenth-century Japan. Could it mean “something of no 



the moonlight so much that the leaking roof was left unrepaired 
according to her desire; but the old gentleman loved to listen to 
the rain drops beating against the roof, which could not hap- 
pen if the roof were left out of repair as it now was. Is the 
hut to he roofless for the moon? Or is it to be put in order for 
the rain? The autumn is already here. The finest moon season is 
approaching, and at the same time the autumnal showers are so 
enjoyable when one sits quietly listening to them. As long as this 
problem was not decided, it would he highly inhospitable on the 
part of the host and the hostess to take any stranger into their 
house. They thought; 

Our humble hut — 

Is it to be thatched, or not to be thatched? 

Saigyo exclaimed, “Here is a good poem already half com- 
posed!” “If you understand poetry,” said the old couple, “com- 
plete the stanza, and we will give you lodging, whatever it may 
be.” Saigyo immediately responded: 

Is the moonlight to leak? 

Are the shoivers to patter? 

Our thoughts are divided. 

And this humble hut — 

To be thatched, or not to be thatched? 

The monk-poet was now invited in. As the night advanced, the 
moon grew brighter, illuminating the faraway fields and moun- 
tains and shedding its light even inside the hut. But, listen, 
showers are coming! Trees are rustling! No, it is the dead 
leaves that are beating against the house, sounding like the rain 
drops. A wind is up, but the sky is clear as ever. It is a shower 
of falling leaves in the moonlight. 

Saig>-o has another poem to similar effect: 

The hut leaks when it rains. 

And / am wet; 

/ think of the kindly visits of the moonlight. 



When the dead leaves are falling thick, 

As I sit quietly at night in my room. 

Difficult it is to judge 
Whether it is showering. 

Or ivhether it is not showeringd* 

The falling leaves in autumn have often awakened the poetic 
sensibility of the nature-loving Japanese. The scene is suggestive 
of solitude and induces one to a meditative mood. Saigyd was 
also deeply impressed with it. \^'hile alone in his humhle herm- 
itage somewhere in the mountains, he was awakened during the 
night by the falling leaves striking showerlike against the roof 
and the amado,^^ which no doubt greatly added to the feeling of 
aloneness, which is the spirit of autumn-nature. The following 
poem is not merely descriptive, it reflects the mood of the season. 

May it be a passing shower 
That keeps me awake in bed? 

No, it is the autumn leaves falling 
Resistlessly before a squall. 

From the practical point of view, rain is an inconvenient thing, 
but in Japanese and also in Chinese poetry much reference is 
made to rain — especially to a gentle rain such as we have in 
Japan — as whispering to us the inner secrets of Reality. Listen 
to Saigyo again; 

Completely imprisoned in the spring rain, 

I am all alone in the solitary hut. 

Unknown to humankind. 

To really understand the poetry and philosophy of the spring 
rain one must live in Japan in a small straw-thatched house. 

By Minamoto no Yorizane, of the thirteenth centur>\ 

Literally, “rain door.*' The Japane'^e house has practically no windows in 
the Vi estern sense. It is all doors — sliding doors which serve to partition the 
rooms, admit light, protect the house against rain, snow, \Nind, etc. The arnado 
are outside sliding doors, which are closed regularly at night or when the 
weather is inclement. 


perhaps with a stretch of lawn and a little pond before one’s six- 
mat room. ‘"Unknown to humankind,” but thoroughly acquainted 
with Nature was the poet. 

Dogen (1200—1253) was the founder of the Sot5 branch of 
Zen Buddhism in Japan. The following is the most celebrated of 
his poems, worth while quoting in this connection: 

How we go like clouds drifting through births and deaths! 

The path of ignorance and the path of enlightenment — we walk 


There’s one thing only still in my memory even after waking: 
The sound of a rainfall to which I listened one night while at 

my Fukakusa retreat! 

Thoreau, in Walden, gives an inkling of what is sometimes 
designated as cosmic consciousness or cosmic feeling, which he 
cherished as he listened to rainfall: 

“I have never felt lonesome, or in the least oppressed by a 
sense of solitude, but once, and that was a few weeks after I 
came to the woods, when, for an hour, I doubted if the near 
neighborhood of man was not essential to a serene and healthy 
life. To be alone was something unpleasant. But I was at the 
same time conscious of a slight insanity in my mood, and 
seemed to foresee my recovery. In the midst of a gentle rain, 
wliile these thoughts prevailed. I was suddenly sensible of such 
sweet and beneficent society in Nature, in the very pattering of 
the drops, and in every sound and sight around my house, an 
infinite and unaccountable friendliness all at once like an atmos- 
phere sustaining me, as made the fancied advantages of human 
neighborhood insignificant, and I have never thought of them 
since. Every little pine needle expanded and swelled with sym- 
pathy, and befriended me. I was so distinctly made aware 
of the presence of something kindred to me, even in scenes 
which we are accustomed to call wild and dreary, and also that 
the nearest of blood to me and humanest was not a person nor a 




villager, that I thought no place could ever be strange to me 
again.” fCh. 5, “Solitude.”) 


LET US note here, in passing, how Oriental thoughts and feel- 
ings filtered into the American mind in the nineteenth century. 
The Transcendentalist movement begun by the poets and philoso- 
phers of Concord is still continuing all over America. While the 
commercial and industrial expansion of America in the Far East 
and all the world over is a significant event of the twentieth cen- 
tury, we must acknowledge at the same time that the Orient is 
contributing its quota to the intellectual wealth of the West — 
American as well as European. In 1844. Emerson wrote, in 
response to Carlyle's chiding of his otherworldliness, in these 
remarkable terms: "You sometimes charge me with I know not 
what sky-blue, sky-void idealism. As far as it is a partiality, I 
fear I may be more deeply infected than you think me. 1 have 
very joyful dreams which I cannot bring to paper, mucli less 
to any approach to practice, and I blame myself not at all for 
my reveries, but they have not yet got possession of my house 
and barn. ... I only worship Eternal Buddha in the retire- 
ments and intermissions of Brahma.” 

Emerson’s allusion to “sky-void idealism” is interesting. Ap- 
parently he means the Buddhist theory of sunyatd (“emptiness” 
or “void”). Although it is doubtful how deeply he entered into 
the spirit of this theory, which is the basic principle of the Bud- 
dhist thought and from which Zen starts on its mystic apprecia- 
tion of Nature, it is really wonderful to see the American mind, 
as represented by the exponents of Transcendentalism, even 
trying to probe into the abysmal darkness of the Oriental 
fantasy. I am now beginning to understand the meaning of the 
deep impressions made upon me while reading Emerson in my 



college clays. I was not then studying the American philosopher 
hut digging down into the recesses of my own thought, which 
had been there ever since the awakening of Oriental conscious- 
ness. That was the reason why I had felt so famdiar with him — 
I was. indeed, making acquaintance with myself then. The same 
can be said of Thoreau. Who would not recognize his poetic 
affinity with Saigyo or Basho. and his perhaps unconscious in- 
debtedness to the Oriental mode of feeling towards Nature? 

To finish this part of my thesis, let me introduce to you a Zen 
master whose remark on ram is well-known among the followers 
of Zen. It was raining one day. and Kyosho 1 d. 937) the master 
said to a monk. "T^ hat is the sound outside the door?” The 
monk answered, “The pattering of rain drops, master.” This was 
an honest answer, and the master knew it from the first. His 
verdict, however, was: “All beings are confused in mind, they 
are pursuing outside objects alwa)’s. not knowing where to find 
the real self.” This is a hard hit. If the outside pattering is not 
to be called rain, what is it? What does it mean to pursue the 
outside objects, and to be confused in the notion of the ego? Sec- 
cho comments: 

An empty hall, and the sound of pattering rain! 

Indeed, an unanswerable question even for an accomplished 


The American Transcendentalist’s attitude tow'ard Nature has 
no doubt a great mystical note, but the Zen masters go far be- 
yond it and are really incomprehensible. But we will drop the 
rain for a while, for it is now time to see into the teaching of Zen. 

From the Ilekigan-shu (“Blue Rock Collection'*), case 46. 



TO UNDERSTAND the cultural life of the Japanese people 
in all its different aspects, including their intensive love of Na- 
ture, which we have spoken of just now. it is essential, as I 
have repeatedly stated, to delve into the secrets of Zen Buddhism. 
Without some knowledge of these the Japanese character is dif- 
ficult to appreciate. This does not, of course, mean that Zen is 
everything in the molding of the character and general culture 
of the Japanese people. What I mean is that, when Zen is 
grasped, we can with some degree of ease get into the depths 
of their spiritual life in all its varied expressions. 

This fact is recognized, consciously or unconsciously, by 
scholars and by men in the street. The former recognize it in 
an analytical and critical manner worthy of their profession; 
the latter appreciate it by actually living it. in the delight they 
feel in listening to tales and traditions traceable somehow to the 
teaching of Zen Buddhism. 

That Zen has had a great deal to do in the building of Japanese 
character and culture is pointed out also by foreign writers on 
Japan, among whom we may mention the following. 

The late Sir Charles Eliot, who most unfortunately passed 
away without personally revising his valuable book, Japanese 
Buddhism, writes ( p. 396) : ‘'Zen has been a great power in the 
artistic, intellectual, and even the political life of the Far East. To 
a certain extent it has moulded the Japanese character, but it is 


also the expression of that character. No other form of Bud- 
dhism is so thoroughly Japanese.” The one significant point 
here is that Zen is the expression of the Japanese character. 
Historically, Zen started in China about fifteen hundred years 
ago. and it was not until the latter part of the Sung dynasty 
(961-1280), that is, in the earlier part of the thirteenth century, 
that Zen was brought to Japan. Thus the history of Zen in Japan 
is far younger than in China, but it was so adaptable to the char- 
acter of the Japanese people, especially in its moral and aesthetic 
aspects, that it has penetrated far more deeply and widely into 
Japanese life than into Chinese. Hence we see that the statement 
made by the author of Japanese Buddhism is not at all an 

Sir George Sansom, another capable English writer on Japan, 
makes the following observation on Zen in his Japan, A Short 
Cultural History (p. 336): “The influence of this school [i.e., 
Zen Buddhism] upon Japan has been so subtle and pervading 
that it has become the essence of her finest culture. To follow 
its ramifications in thought and sentiment, in art, letters and 
beliaviour, would be to write exhaustively the most difficult and 
the most fascinating chapter of her spiritual history. . . .” While 
I may have occasion later to criticize this writer’s view on the 
Japanese love of Nature, the point he makes here is accurate, 
and I am in full agreement with him. 

hat are the characteristic features of Zen as distinguished 
from the other forms of Buddhism? It will be necessary to know 
them before we proceed to see the relationship between Zen 
and the Japanese love of Nature. Naturally, it is outside our 
scope of study here to enter in detail into what really and es- 
sentially constitutes Zen. Much has already been done along this 
line, directly and indirectly, in the preceding sections. Therefore, 
let the following brief statements here suffice concerning the 
teaching and discipline of Zen, as regards its four aspects: re- 
ligious, moral, aesthetic, and epistemological. 





IN THE first place, let me state that Zen is not a mere ascetic 
discipline. When we see a monk living in a humble hut and 
sustaining himself on rice and pickles and potatoes, we may 
imagine him to be a world-fleeing recluse, whose principle of 
life is self-abnegation. True, there is a certain side in his life 
tending to this, as Zen teaches a form of detachment and self- 
control. But if we imagine there is nothing more in Zen, we 
entertain a very superficial view of it. The Zen insights go far 
deeper into the source of life, where Zen is truly religious. By 
this I mean Zen is in close touch with Reality; indeed, Zen takes 
hold of it and lives it, and this is where Zen is religious. 

Those who are acquainted only with the Christian or some 
Indian Bhakti forms of religion may wonder where really in Zen 
is that which corresponds to their notion of God and their pious 
attitude toward him; Reality sounds to them too conceptual and 
philosophical and not devotional enough. In fact, Buddhism 
uses quite frequently more abstract-sounding terms than Reality, 
for instance, “suchness” or “thusness” (tathatd), “emjjtiness” 
or “void” {sunyatd), “limit of reality” {bhutakoti) , etc. And 
this is sometimes what leads Christian critics and even Japanese 
scholars themselves to regard Zen as the teaching of a quietistic, 
meditative life. But with the followers of Zen these terms are 
not conceptual at all, but quite real and direct, vital and energiz- 
ing — because Reality or Suchness or Emptiness is taken hold of 
in the midst of the concrete living facts of the universe, and not 
abstracted from them by means of thought. 

Zen never leaves this world of facts. Zen always lives in the 
midst of realities. It is not for Zen to stand apart or keep itself 
away from a world of names and forms. If there is a God, per- 
sonal or impersonal, he or it must be with Zen and in Zen. As 
long as an objective world, whether religiously or philosophically 




or poetically considered, remains a threatening and annihilating 
power, standing against us, there is no Zen here. For Zen makes 
“a humhle blade of grass act as the Buddha-body sixteen 
feet high,^ and, conversely, the Buddha-body sixteen feet high act 
as a humble blade of grass.” Zen holds the whole universe, as 
it were, in its palm. This is the religion of Zen. 

Zen is often thought to be a form of pantheism. Apparently 
it is. and Buddhists themselves sometimes ignorantly subscribe 
to this view. But if this is taken as truly characterizing the es- 
sence of Zen, it altogether misses the point; for Zen is most de- 
cidedly not pantheistic in the same measure as Christianity is 
not. Read this dialogue between Ummon (Tiin-men, d. 949) 
and his disciple. 

Monk: “What is the Pure Body of the Dharma?” 

Master: “The hedgerow.” 

Monk: “What is the behavior of the one who thus under- 

Master; "He is a golden-haired lion.” ' 

When God is the hedgerow dividing the monastery grounds 
from the neighboring farms, there is perhaps a faint suggestion 
of pantheism, we may say. But what about the golden-haired 
lion? The animal is not a manifestation of anything else, he is 
supreme, he is autonomous, he is king of the beasts, he is com- 
plete as he is. No idea is suggested here of the manifestation of 
anything in any form. 

“The golden-haired lion,” as it stands in Ummon’s statement, 
may not be quite intelligible, even with this short explanatory 
comment, to those who are not used to the Zen way of expression. 
To help them I may quote another Zen mondo: 

Monk: “I understand that when a lion seizes upon his op- 
ponent, whether it is a hare or an elephant, he makes an exhaus- 
tive use of his power. Pray tell me what this power is.” 

^ The Buddha-body traditionally regarded as gold-colored and sixteen feet 
in stature. 

~ Hekigan-shu, case 39, 




Master: “The spirit of sincerity” (literally, the power of not- 

“Sincerity,” that is, “not-dcceiving” or “putting forth one’s 
whole being,” is, according to Rinzai,^ “the whole being in ac- 
tion” izentai sayu), in which nothing is kept in reserve, nothing 
is expressed under disguise, nothing goes to waste. When a 
person lives like this, he is said to be a golden-haired lion; he 
is the symbol of virility, sincerity, whole-heartedness; he is 
divinely human; he is not a manifestation but Reality itself, for 
he has nothing behind him, he is “the whole truth,” “the very 

This Zen way of understanding life and the world must be 
distinctly comprehended, as it is important when later the fact 
is demonstrated that there is nothing of symbolism in the 
Japanese love of nature. 

If it is necessary to apply to Zen some form of classification, 
Zen may be pronounced a polytheism, although this “many” 
( polys ) is to be taken as corresponding to the “sands of the 
Gahga” { gahgdnadlvaluha) . Not a few thousands of gods, but 
hundreds of thousands of kotis of gods. In Zen, each individual 
is an absolute entity, and as such he is related to all other 
individuals: this nexus of infinite interrelationsliips is made 
possible in the realm of Emptiness because they all find their 
being here even as they are, that is, as individual realities. This 
may be difficult to grasp for those who are not trained in the 
Buddhist way of thinking. But I have here no time to stop and 
explain the whole system from its beginning, and 1 must hurry 
on to the main subject. 

In short, Zen has its own way of handling Reality, and this 
Zen w ay of handling Reality constitutes the inner meaning of the 

^ Dentdroku (“Transmission of the Lamp”), fasc. 27. The master’s name 
is missing. 

* Sayings of Rinzai Gigen. Rinzai Gigen (Lin-chi I-hsiian, d. 867) was one of 
the greatest Zen masters of the T'ang dynasty, and his analects known as the 
Rinzai-roku (Lin-chi Lu) are considered by some the supreme specimen of Zen 




Japanese love of Nature. For the Japanese love of Nature is not 
to be understood in the sense in which it is ordinarily understood. 
This will be made clearer as w'e proceed. 


z E N is ascetic when it plays the role of a moral discipline in the 
sense that it aims at simplicity in all its forms. It has something 
of the stoicism in which the samurai class of Japan has been 
reared. The simplicity and frugality of the Kamakura life under 
the Hojd regime in the thirteenth century no doubt owes its 
initial motives to the influence of Zen. Furthermore, the moral 
courage and indomitable spirit of Hojo Tokimune (1251-84), 
without whom the history of Japan would probably have taken 
quite a different course, were fostered by the teaching of Zen 
under the Chinese masters, who, by the invitation of the Hojo 
government, found their shelter then in Japan. Tokiyori ( 1227- 
63), father of Tokimune, was also a great Zen devotee, and 
it was, indeed, under his direction that Tokimune visited the 
Zen monasteries, where he went through a moral and spiritual 
training, making himself thereby one of the greatest figures in 
the annals of Japan. 

In Zen we find Chinese pragmatism solidly welded with 
Indian metaphysics and its high-soaring speculations. Without 
this perfect welding of the two highest forms of Oriental culture, 
it is very unlikely that Zen could have grown even in the con- 
genial and, therefore, fruitful soil of Japan. And Zen came to 
Japan at the most opportune time in its history, because it was 
then that the old schools of Buddhism in Nara and Kyoto had 
proved ineffectual to usher in a new spiritual era. It was most 
fortunate for Zen that it found in the very beginning of its 
career in Japan such able disciples as Hojo Tokiyori and Toki- 
mune. So far, the meaning of the part the Hojo family played in 
the cultural, political, and economic history of Japan has not been 



fully appreciated. This was chiefly due to those of militaristic 
hias, who tried to interpret history in their own crooked style. As 
Japanese scholars, however, begin to study it from a new point 
of view, which is now possible through the tragic experience of 
recent years, they will surely come to realize the significance of 
the Kamakura era, of which Yasutoki. Tokiyori. and Tokimune 
were the most remarkable representatives. And tlie significance 
of Zen in this period, as one of the most effective molding agen- 
cies of the Japanese charaeter, will also he understood. 

What is the most specific characteristic of Zen asceticism in 
connection with the Japanese love of Nature? It consists in pay- 
ing Nature the fullest respect it deserves. By this it is meant 
that we may treat Nature not as an object to conquer and turn 
wantonly to our human service, but as a friend, as a fellow 
being, who is destined like ourselves for Buddhahood. Zen wants 
us to meet Nature as a friendly, well-meaning agent whose inner 
being is thoroughly like our own, always ready to work in ac- 
cord with our legitimate aspirations. Nature is never our enemy 
standing always against us in a threatening attitude; it is not a 
power which will crush us if we do not crush it or bind it into 
our service. 

Zen asceticism consists not necessarily in curbing or destroy- 
ing our desires and instincts but in respecting Nature and not 
violating it, whether our own Nature or the Nature of the objec- 
tive world. Self-mortification is not the proper attitude we may 
take toward ourselves, nor is selfish utilization the justifiable 
idea we may conceive toward Nature in any sense. Therefore, 
Zen asceticism is not at all in sympathy with the materialistic 
trends so much in evidence all over the world, in science, in- 
dustrialism, commercialism, and many other movements of 

Zen purposes to respect Nature, to love Nature, to live its ovn 
life; Zen recognizes that our Nature is one with objective Nature, 
not in the mathematical sense, but in the sense that Nature li\es 
in us and we in Nature. For this reason, Zen asceticism ad\ocates 



simplicity, frugality, straightforwardness, virility, making no 
attempt to utilize Nature for selfish purposes. 

Asceticism, some are afraid, lowers the standard of living. 
But, to speak candidly, the losing of the soul is more than the 
gaining of the world. Are we not constantly engaged in warlike 
preparations everywhere in order to raise or maintain our 
precious standard of living? If this state of affairs continues, 
there is no doubt of our finally destroying one another, not only 
individually but internationally. Instead of raising the so-called 
standard of living, will it not be far, far better to elevate the 
equality of living? This is a truism, but in no time of history has 
such a truism been more in need of being loudly declared than 
in these days of greed, jealousy, and iniquity. We followers of 
Zen ought to stand strongly for the asceticism it teaches. 


THE AESTHETIC aspect of Zen teaching is closely related to 
Zen asceticism in that there is in both the absence of selfhood 
and the merging of subject and object in one absolute Emptiness 
(mnyata). This is a strange saying, but, as the basic teaching 
of Zen, it is reiterated everywhere in Zen literature. To explain 
this is a great philosophical task, full of intellectual pitfalls. 
Not only does it require arduous and sustained thinking, but 
frequently this very thinking is apt to lead to grave misconcep- 
tions of the true meaning of Zen experience. Therefore, as al- 
ready hinted, Zen avoids abstract statements and conceptual 
reasoning; and its literature is almost nothing but endless cita- 
tions of the so-called "anecdotes” or ’‘incidents” ( innen in 
Japanese! or “questions and answers” (known as mondo). To 
those who have not been initiated into its mystery, it is a wild 
and unapproachable territory of briars and brambles. The Zen 
masters, however, are not yielding; they insist on having their 
own way of expressing themselves; they think that in this re- 



sped they know best, and they are in the right because the 
nature of their experience is determinative as regards their 
method of communication or demonstration. If I cite the follow- 
ing mondo to illustrate Zen aestheticism, I hope you will not take 
me as purposely mystifying my position. 

While Rikko (Lu Keng). a high government official of the 
T’ang dynasty, had a talk with his Zen master Nansen.'’ the of- 
ficial quoted a saying of S6j6,“ a noted monk-scholar of an earlier 

Heaven and earth and I are of the same root. 

The ten-thousand things and I are of one substance 

and continued, “Is not this a most remarkable statement?'’ 

Nansen called the attention of the visitor to the flowering 
plant in the garden and said. “People of the world look at these 
flowers as if they were in a dream.” 

This “story” or mondo eloquently describes the aesthetic at- 
titude of Zen toward objects of Nature. Most people do not 
really know how to look at the flower; for one thing they stand 
away from it; they never grasp the spirit of it; as they have no 
firm hold of it, they are as if dreaming of a flower. The one who 
beholds is separated from the object which is beheld: there is an 
impassable gap between the two; and it is impossible for the 
beholder to come in touch inwardly with his object. Here is no 
grasping of actual facts as we face them. If heaven and earth, 
with all the manifold objects between them, issue from the one 
root which you and I also come from, this root must he firmly 
seized upon so that there is an actual experience of it; for it 
is in this experience that Nansen’s flower in its natural beauty 
appealed to his aesthetic sense. The so-called Japanese love of 

^Nan-ch'iian 17-18-834). Hekigrm-shu, ca«e 40. 

® Seng-i hao (38-1-4141. S7ng-chao, one of the four principal disciples of 
Kuniaraji\a (\\ho came from Kuclia, Central .\-ia, tt» Cli ang-an, China, in 
401), wrote several essays on Buddhism. The quotation is from one of them. Its 
source is in the Cliuang-tzii, II. 


Nature becomes related to Zen when we come to this experience 
of Nature appreciation, which is Nature-living. 

Here we must remember that the experience of mere oneness 
is not enough for the real appreciation of Nature. This no doubt 
gives a philosophical foundation to the sentimentalism of the 
Nature-loving Japanese, who are thus helped to enter deeply into 
the secrets of their own aesthetic consciousness. Sentimentalism 
to that extent is purified, one may say. But the feeling of love is 
possible in a world of multiplicity; Nansen’s remark falls flat 
where there is only sameness. It is true that people of the world 
are dreaming, because they do not see into the real foundation 
of existence. The balancing of unity and multiplicity or, better, 
the merging of self with others as in the philosophy of the 
Avatarnsaka { Kegon 1 is absolutely necessary to the aesthetic un- 
derstanding of Nature. 

Tennyson says; 

Little flower — but if I could understand 
fl hat you are, root and all, and all in all, 

I should know what God and man is. 

The beauty of the little flower in the crannied wall is really ap- 
preciated only when it is referred to tlie ultimate reason of all 
things. But it goes without saying that this is not to be done in 
a merely piiilosophical and conceptual way, but in the way Zen 
proposes to accomplish it: not in a pantheistic way, nor in a 
quietistic way. but in the "living ’ way as has been done by 
Nansen and his followers. To do this and to appreciate Nansen 
truly, one must first greet Rikko and be friendly with him; for 
it is in tliis way that one can feel the force of the remark made 
by Nan-en. The genuine beauty of the flower as he saw' it is for 
the first time reflected in one’s soul-mirror. 

The aesthetic appreciation of Nature always involves some- 
thing religious. And by being “religious ’ I mean being “super- 
worldly,” going beyond the world of relativity, where we are 
bound to encounter oppositions and limitations. The opposi- 




tions and limitations which confront every movement of ours, 
physical and psychological, put a stop, also, to the free flow of 
our aesthetical feeling toward its objects. Beauty is felt when 
there is freedom of motion and freedom of expression. Beauty is 
not in form but in the meaning it expresses, and this meaning is 
felt when the observing subject throws his whole being into the 
bearer of the meaning and moves along with it. This is possible 
only when he lives in a “superworld” where no mutually exclud- 
ing oppositions take place, or rather when the mutually exclud- 
ing oppositions of which we are always too conscious in this 
world of multiplicities are taken up even as they are into some- 
thing of a higher order than they. Aestheticism now' merges into 

Sir George Sansom makes this comment concerning the Zen 
love of Nature {Japan, A Short Cultural History, p. 392 ) : "But 
the Zen artists and the Zen poets — and it is often hard to say 
where their poetry ends and their painting begins — feel no 
antithesis between man and Nature, and are conscious even of 
an identity rather than a kinship. What interests them is not 
the restless movement on the surface of life, but ( as Professor 
Anezaki puts itl the eternal tranquillity seen through and be- 
hind change.” This is not Zen at all. Both Professor Anezaki 
and Sir George Sansom fail to grasp the true Zen attitude toward 
Nature. It is not an experience of identification, nor is it the 
feeling of “eternal tranquillity” they dream of. If the poets and 
the artists linger with that which is felt “tlirough and behind 
change,” they are still walking hand in hand with Rikko and 
Sojo, they are far, far from being friends of Nansen. The real 
flower is enjoyed only when the poet-artist lives with it, in it; 
and when even a sense of identity is no longer here, much less the 
“eternal tranquillity.” 

Thus I wish to emphasize that Zen does not see any such thing 
as is designated “the restless movement on the surface of life.” 
For life is one integral and indivisible whole, with neither sur- 
face nor interior; hence no "restless movement” which can be 


separated from life itself. As was explaip.etl in the case of Um- 
mon’s ‘’golden-haired lion,” life moves in its complete oneness, 
whether restlessly or serenely, as you may conceive it; your 
interpretation does not alter the fact. Zen takes hold of life in its 
wholeness and moves “restlessly” with it or stays quietly with 
it. T^dierever there is any sign of life at all, there is Zen. 
^^dien, however, the “eternal tranquillity” is abstracted from 
‘’the restless movement on the surface of life,” it sinks into 
death, and there is no more of its “surface” either. The tran- 
quillity of Zen is in the midst of “the boiling oil.” the surging 
waves, and in the flames enveloping the god Acala. 

Kanzan (Han-shan) was one of the most famous poet-lunatics 
of the T’ang dynasty — Zen often produces such “lunatics” — 
and one of his poems reads: 

My mind is like the autumnal moon; 

And hole clear and transparent the deep pool! 

No comparison, however, in any form is possible, 

It is altogether beyond description. 

Superficially, this poem may suggest the idea of tranquillity or 
serenity. The autumnal moon is serene, and its light uniformly 
pervading the fields and rivers and mountains may make us 
think of the oneness of things. But this is where Kanzan hesi- 
tates to draw any comparison between his feelings and things of 
this world. The reason is sure to take the pointing finger for the 
moon, as our worthy critics frequently do. To tell the truth, 
there is here not the remotest hint of tranquillity or serenity, nor 
of the identity of Nature and man. If anything is suggested here, 
it is the idea of utmost transparency which the poet feels through 
and through. He is entirely lifted out of his bodily existence, in- 
cluding both his objective world and his subjective mind. He has 
no such interfering mediums inside and outside. He is thoroughly 
pure, and from this position of absolute purity or transparency 
he looks out on a world of multiplicity so called. He sees flowers 
and mountains and ten thousand other things, and will pro- 




nounce them beautiful and satisfying. “The restless movements” 
are appreciated just as much as “the eternal tranquillity.” It 
goes entirely against the spirit of Zen and the Japanese idea of 
love of Nature to imagine that the Japanese Zen poets and artists 
avoid the restlessness of a world of multiplicity in order to get 
into the eternal tranquillity of abstract ideas. Let us first get an 
experience of transparency, and we are able to love Nature and 
its multifarious objects, though not dualistically. As long as we 
harbor conceptual illusions arising from the separation of sub- 
ject and object and believe them final, the transparency is ob- 
scured, and our love of Nature is contaminated with dualism and 

To quote another poet of Zen, this time a Japanese and the 
founder of a great Zen monastery called Eigen ji in the province 
of Omi — his name is Jakushitsu ( 1290-1367 ) : 

The wind stirs the flying waterfall and sends in refreshing 

The moon is risen over the opposite peah and the bamboo 
shadows are cast over my paper window: 

As I groiv older, the mountain retreat appeals all the more 
strongly to my feeling: 

Even when I am buried, after death, underneath the rock, 
my bones will be as thoroughly transparcjit as ever. 

Some readers may be tempted to read into this poem a sense 
of solitude or quietness, but that this altogether misses the point 
is apparent to those who know at all what Zen is. Lnless the Zen 
artist is saturated with the feeling Jakushitsu graphically ex- 
presses here, he cannot expect to understand Nature, nor can 
he truly love Nature. Transparency is the keynote to the Zen 
understanding of Nature, and it is from this that its love of Na- 
ture starts. When people say that Zen has given a philosophical 
and religious foundation to the Japanese love of Nature, this 
Zen attitude or feeling must be taken fully into consideration. 
When Sir George Sansom surmises that “they [aristocrats. 



monks, and artists] were moved by a belief that all nature is 
permeated by one spirit,” and that ‘"it was the aim of the Zen 
practitioner in particular, by purging his mind of egotistic 
commotions, to reach a tranquil, intuitive realization of his 
identity with the universe” ( p. 3921. he ignores the part Zen 
has really contributed to the Japanese aesthetic appreciation of 
Nature. He cannot shake off the idea of ‘'eternal tranquillity” or 
of a spiritual identity between subject and object. 

The idea of “spiritual identity” by which our egotistic com- 
motions are kept quiet and in which eternal tranquillity is ex- 
perienced is an alluring idea. Most students of Oriental culture 
and philosophy grasp at it as giving them the key to the inscru- 
table psychology of the Eastern peoples. But this is the \^Tstern 
mind trying to solve the mystery in its own way — in fact, it can- 
not do anything else. As far as we Japanese are concerned, we 
are unable to accept without comment this interpretation offered 
by the Western critics. Plainly speaking. Zen does not acknowl- 
edge “one spirit" permeating all Nature, nor does it attempt to 
realize identity by purging its mind of “egotistic commotions.” 
According to the author of this statement, tlie grasping of “one 
spirit” is evidently the realization of identity that is left behind 
when the purgation of egotism is effected. While it is difficult to 
refute this idea convincingly as long as we are arguing along the 
logical line of Yes and No. I will try to make my point clearer 
in the following paragraphs. 


IT IS NOW necessary to say something about Zen epistemology. 
The term may sound too philosophical, but my object here is to 
make some plain statements about the facts of Zen intuition. 
What Zen is most anxious to do in its oism characterization is to 
reject conceptual mediumship of any kind. Any medium that is 
set up before Zen in its attempt to understand the facts of ex- 



perience is sure to obscure the nature of the latter. Instead of 
clarifying or simplifying the situation, the presence of a third 
party always ends in creating complexities and obscurations. 
Zen therefore abhors mediums. It advises its followers to have 
direct dealings with their objects, whatever they may be. We 
often speak of identification in our Zen discipline, but this word 
is not exact. Identification presupposes original opposition of two 
terms, subject and object, but tlie truth is tliat from the very first 
there are no two opposing terms whose identification is to be 
achieved by Zen. It is better to say that tliere has never been 
any separation between subject and object, and that all the 
discrimination and separation we have or, rather, make is a 
later creation, though the concept of time is not to be inter- 
posed here. The aim of Zen is thus to restore the experience of 
original inseparability, which means, in other words, to return to 
the original state of purity and transparency. This is the reason 
conceptual discrimination is discredited in Zen. Followers of 
identity and tranquillity are to be given the warning: they are 
ridden by concepts; let them rise to facts and live in and with 

Chosha,’ of the T’ang dynasty, one day came back from a walk 
in the mountains. When he reached the monastery gate, the 
head monk asked, ‘‘Where have you been all this time. Reverend 

Replied the master, “I am just back from my mountain walk.” 

The monk pursued, here in the mountains?” 

“I first went out in the field scented with grasses and then 
walked home watching the flowers fall.” 

Is there any expression here suggestive of “tranquillity that 
is behind and through change”? or of identity that is perceptible 
between Chosha and the grasses and flowers among which he 
walked up and down? 

Chosha one evening was enjoying the moonlight with his friend 

''That is, Chosha Keishin (Chang-sha Ching-ts’en) , a disciple of Nansen. 
The story is from the Hekigan-shu, case 36. 


Kyozan.® Kyozan. pointing at the moon. said. “Each person with- 
out exception has this, only that he fails to use it.” I Is this a 
suggestion of “one spirit” or of “tranquillity”? ) 

Chosha said. "Just as you say; and may I ask you to use it?” 
(As long as “identity” or “tranquillity” blinds your eyesight, 
how can you “use” it? ) 

Kyozan: “Let me see how you use it.” (Did he then enter 
into Nirvana eternally serene? ) 

Chosha then kicked his brother-monk down to the ground. 
Kyozan. quietly rising, remarked, “0 brother-monk, you are in- 
deed like a tiger.” ( When this tiger, like the golden-haired 
lion, roars, one ghostly “spirit” so valued by the critics vanishes, 
and “tranquillity” is no more.) 

A strange yet lively scene enacted by the Zen poets, who were 
supposed to be enjoying the serenity of a moonlit eve. makes 
us pause and think about the significance of Zen in regard to 
its relation to the Japanese love of Nature. What is really here 
that stirs up the two apparently meditative and nature-loving 

The epistemology of Zen is. therefore, not to resort to the 
mediumship of concepts. If you want to understand Zen. under- 
stand it right away without deliberation, without turning your 
head this way or that. For while you are doing this, the object 
you have been seeking for is no longer there. This doctrine of 
immediate grasping is characteristic of Zen. If the Greeks taught 
us how to reason and Christianity what to believe, it is Zen that 
teaches us to go beyond logic and not to tarry even ^\hen we come 
up against “the things which are not seen.” For the Zen point 
of view is to find an absolute point where no dualism in whatever 
form obtains. Logic starts from the division of subject and ob- 
ject. and belief distinguishes between what is seen and what is 
not seen. The T^'estern mode of thinking can never do awav with 
this eternal dilemma, this or that, reason or faith, man or God, 

^Kyozan Ejaku (Yang-shan Hui-chi. 81i-90) a disciple of Isan Reiyu 
(Kuei-=han Ling-\u, 770-853J. Jbid., \eiigo*& notes. 




etc. With Zen all these are swept aside as something veiling 
our insight into the nature of life and reality. Zen leads us into a 
realm of Emptiness or Void where no conceptualism prevails, 
where rootless trees grow and a most refreshing breeze sweeps 
over all the ground. 

From this short characterization of Zen we can see what Zen’s 
attitude toward Nature is. It is not a sense of identity nor of 
tranquillity that Zen sees and loves in Nature. Nature is always 
in motion, never at a standstill; if Nature is to be loved, it 
must be caught while moving and in this way its aesthetic value 
must be appraised. To seek tranquillity is to kill nature, to stop 
its pulsation, and to embrace the dead corpse that is left be- 
hind. Advocates of tranquillity are worshipers of abstraction 
and death. There is nothing in this to love. Identity is also a 
static condition and decidedly associated with death. When we 
are dead, we return to the dust where we started, we are tlien 
identified with the earth. Identification is not the thing to covet 
highly. Let us destroy all such artificial barriers we put up be- 
tween Nature and ourselves, for it is only when they are re- 
moved that we see into the living heart of Nature and live with 
it — which is the real meaning of love. For this, therefore, the 
clearing away of all conceptual scaffolds is imperative. When Zen 
speaks of transparency, it means this clearing away, this thorough 
wiping of the surface of the mind-mirror. But, in point of 
fact, the mirror has never been obscured, and no need has ever 
been felt for wiping it clean; but because of such notions as 
identity, tranquillity, one spirit, egotistic commotions, and so on, 
we are compelled to set up a general sweeping operation. 

After these interpretations, some may declare Zen to be a 
form of Nature mysticism, a pliilosophical intuitionalism, and a 
religion advocating stoical simplicity and austerity. Flowever 
this is. Zen gives us a most comprehensive outlook on the world, 
be cause the realm of Zen extends to the very limits of thousands 
of kotis of chili acosms. and even beyond them all. Zen has a 
most penetrating insight into Reality, because it sounds the very 



depths of all existence. Zen knows a most thoroughgoing way of 
appreciating the genuinely beautiful, because it lives in the body 
of the beautiful itself, known as the golden-colored Buddha-body 
with the thirty-two major and eighty minor marks of super- 
humanity. T^hth these as the background, the Japanese love of 
Nature unfolds itself as it comes in contact with its objects. 




THE LOVE of Nature the Japanese people originally had was 
no doubt their innate aesthetic sense for tilings beautiful: 
but the appreciation of the beautiful is at bottom religious, for 
without being religious one cannot detect and enjoy what is 
genuinely beautiful. And there is no denying that Zen gave an 
immense impetus to the native feeling for Nature, not only by 
sharpening it to the highest degree of sensitiveness but also by 
giving it a metaphysical and religious background. In tlie be- 
ginning, probably, the Japanese were naively attracted to the 
beautiful which they saw about them; it is possible tliat they re- 
garded all things in Nature as uniformly animated with life, after 
the manner of primitive people who look upon even nonsentient 
things from their animistic point of view. But as they cultivated 
themselves in the Zen teaching, their aesthetic and religious 
sensitiveness was further nourished. And this nourishment 
came in the form of an exalted moral discipline and a highly 
spiritual intuition. 

That is to say, the snow-crowned peak of Fuji is now seen as 
rising from the background of Emptiness; the pine trees orna- 
menting the monastery grounds are ever fresh and green be- 
cause they are "rootless’’ and "shadowless’’; the rain drops pat- 
tering on the roof of my humble hut transmit the echo of the 
ancient days when Kyosho and Seccho, Saigyo and Dogen made 
their comments on the sound. The moonlight that “leaked” into 
the empty room of Kanzan and of the old couple in the Ugetsu 



house will also this evening visit your hotel with all its modern 
conveniences. You may say, the universe remains ever the 
same with Zen or without Zen. But my solemn proclamation is 
that a new universe is created every moment Zen looks out from 
its straw-thatched four-and-a-half-mat retreat. This may sound 
too mystical, but without a full appreciation of it not a page of 
the history of Japanese poetry, Japanese arts, and Japanese 
handicrafts would have been written. Not only the history of the 
arts, hut the history of the Japanese moral and spiritual life 
would lose its deeper significance, if detached from the Zen 
way of interpreting life and the world. Otherwise, it would have 
been perhaps impossible for the Japanese people to stand against 
the unprecedented onslaught of modern science, machines, and 
commercial industrialism. 

Let me illustrate the spirit of Zen as lived by Ryokwan (1758- 
1831), a Buddhist monk who passed his unpretentious life in 
the province of Echigo early in the nineteenth century. His hav- 
ing been a monk does not weaken, as one may suppose, the 
strength of my statement that Zen has deeply entered into the 
life of the Japanese people; for all those who came to associate 
with him, that is, the entire community in which he moved, ap- 
proved of his life and saw in it something of permanent worth. 
To judge the direction of the wind it is enough to look at a single 
blade of grass. When we know one Ryokwan, we know hundreds 
of thousands of Ryokwans in Japanese hearts. 


R Y 6 K w A N was a Zen monk belonging to the Soto school.^ His 
hut was built in the northern part of the country facing the Sea 
of Japan. From the ordinary worldly point of view he was a “big 
fool” and a lunatic; he lacked what is known as common sense, 
of which we people of the world have too much. But he was very 
^ Founded by Ddgen in the Kamakura era (1185-1338) . 



much liked and respected by his neighbors, and quarrels and 
other annoying incidents which sometimes darken our daily life 
cleared off if he happened to appear in the midst of them. He 
was an accomplished poet in Chinese and Japanese and also a 
great calligrapher. Villagers and townspeople pursued him for 
his autograph, which he found very hard to refuse, for they de- 
vised many contrivances to get from him what they wanted. 

I said he was a lunatic and “a great fool’’ — this latter being 
his own literary name. But he had a most sensitive heart for all 
things human and natural. Indeed he was love incarnate — a 
manifestation of Kwannon Bosatsu." His solitary retreat on a 
mountain away from the village was once ( or twiee? ) broken 
into by a burglar. The burglar must have been a complete 
stranger to the neighborhood, otherwise he would never have 
singled out this poor man’s shelter to plunder. Naturally, there 
was nothing to carry away. He was greatly disappointed. Seeing 
this, Ryokwan’s heart was touched, and he gave him the clothes 
he had on. The burglar hastily left him with the outside amado 
open, from which a bright moon poured its light into Ryokwan’s 
room. The poet in him asserted itself: 

A burglar failing to carry off the moon, 

It shines in from the window! 

Another poem by him reads: 

Where, I ivonder, is he passing the night. 

This cold freezing night. 

When it is even beginning to storm — 

A lonely icayfarer in a world of darkness? 

This is also said to have been composed by the recluse and 
lover of humanity after another unwelcome visit by a stranger. 
The visited one himself must also have suffered the freezing 
night in the lonely hut. Sure enough, he came the following 

-The Bodhisattva Avalokite&^ ara. 



morning to his parental home with a flowing nose and shivering 
with cold, to ask for bedding. 

He was also good to beggars. On his way home from his own 
begging tour, he was ready to give up everything he had to any 
unfortunate fellow being he might happen to meet. The follow- 
ing must have been composed on one of those occasions: 

If my robe dyed black 

W' ere tcide and broad enough, 

1 icould cover all the poor people of the ivorld 
Under my sleeves. 

He had very few desires as far as he was concerned. When 
one of the feudal lords in the neighboring districts once visited 
his hut in order to take him along to his own town, and perhaps 
build a temple for his shelter and religious practices, this beggar- 
poet remained silent for a while. When politely pressed for an 
answer, he wrote this: 

As much fuel as I need. 

Is supplied by the wind — 

These fallen leaves I gather! 

So blessed in poverty, the Zen poet was a great troubadour of 
poverty. His poems, especially in Chinese, are full of these 
sentiments. He must have been an ardent admirer of Kanzan 
(Han-shan), of the T’ang dynasty, for his poems remind us at 
once of the highly spiritual atmosphere in which Kanzan moved. 
Here is one singing of poverty: 

In tatters, in tatters. 

Again in tatters — this my life: 

For food I pick herbs by the roadside; 

In the moonlight I sit meditating all night long; 
Looking at the flowers I forget to return home — 

This primitive life I have come to adopt 
Ever since my association with the Buddhist Brother- 




WHAT lessons did he learn of the Buddhist Brotherhood? Some 
of them are here: 

The past is already past. 

The future is not yet here. 

The present never abides; 

Things are constantly changing, with nothing on which to 

So many names and words confusingly self-created — 

What is the use of wasting your life thus idly all day? 

Do not retain your timeworn views. 

Nor pursue your newly-fashioned imaginations: 

Sincerely and wholeheartedly make inquiries and also re- 
flect within yourself; 

Inquiring and reflecting, reflecting and inquiring, 

Until the moment comes when no further inquiries are pos- 

For this is the time when you will realize that all your past 
has been in the wrong. 

This shows how assiduously Ryokwan had employed liimself in 
the study of Buddhism, before he came to lead his “primitive 
life” in an eternal stream of Karma. 

Wh ence is my life? 

Whither does it depart? 

I sit alone in my hut. 

And meditate quietly yet earnestly; 

W ith all my thinking 1 know no whence. 

Nor do I come to any whither: 

So is it with my present. 

Eternally changing — all in Emptiness! 

In this Emptiness is the Ego for a while. 

With its Yeas and Nays; 




/ Jinoii' not just nhere to set them up, 

I follow my Karma as it moves, with perfect 

^ hat is the practical outcome of this philosophy of “not 
knowing anything " and of leaving Karma, whatever this may 
be, to its own ^sorking? In short, what is Ryokwan’s life of 
absolute passivity or dependence or emptiness? His grass hut 
"ivas a most unjmetentious one. indeed, just large enough for 
himself. Hence "Gogo.’' which means half a sho (less than one 
quart ) of rice — an amount considered enough for one full-grown 
man for a day’s sujjport. 

This solitary hut named ''Gog.6-an'' 

Resembles a hanging bell in shape; 

It stands surrounded by the cedars grou ing thick, 

While a few poems decorate the inside ualls: 

The cooking-pot is sometimes found covered uith dust, 

And smoke often fails to issue from the hearth: 

The lonely visitor is an old man of the Eastern Village, 

JT ho occasionally knocks at the door uhen the moon is 

One autumnal eve 1 was ivakeful. 

Took a staff, and uent out of doors; 

The crickets were singing under the ancient tiles. 

The dead leaves uere fast falling off the shiiering trees; 
Far aiiay the stream uas heard murmuring. 

The moon uas slow to rise above the high peak: 

All conspired to draw me on to a deep meditation. 

And it was some time before I found mv robe heavily wet 
with dew. 


THIS apostle of poverty and solitude — or would it be better to 
call him a grand Nature-mystic? — had a very warm heart for 



Nature and all objects of Nature, plants and animals. As he makes 
allusions in his poems to a bamboo grove surrounding his hut, 
many bamboo shoots must have been growing there. He liked 
them very much, I suppose, for food, but chiefly for their grow- 
ing straight, for their being freshly green all the year round. 
Their roots are firmly set in the ground, while the trunk is hol- 
low, symbolizing Emptiness. Ryokwan liked this character in the 
bamhoo. Once, it is said, a young growing shoot began to break 
through the floor of his closet. He took interest in it. At last, see- 
ing it grow too tall for the enclosure, he started to remove the 
roof for it. He tried to burn the roof with a candle. Did he think 
it the easiest way to accomplish the work? Perhaps he had no 
such design in his mind, he simply wanted to give room to the 
young plant, and seeing the candle most available at the time he 
began the work. But unfortunately the roof caught fire more 
extensively than was first intended, and the whole structure, 
together with the bamboo itself, I believe, was burned down. 
The height of stupidity, indeed, this burning of a roof for the 
sake of a bamboo shoot — I mean from our practical point of 
view. But I feel like condoning or, rather, admiring his stupidity. 
There is something so genuine, or, shall I say, so divine in his 
feeling for the bamboo shoot. There is something like this in 
every genuine act of love. We as human beings, so given up to 
all kinds of practical and sordid considerations, are unable to 
follow every pure impulse of kindly feeling. How often do we 
deliberately suppress or repress the impulse? In us the impulse 
may not always be so thoroughly undefiled as in our poet- 
lunatic, and this may be our conscious reason for repression or 
suppression. If so, our life ought to be purged of all impurities 
before we criticize Ryokwan. 

RySkwan’s love for pine trees appears in his poems. He does 
not seem to have been much of a talker or writer; everything 
that went through his sensitive mind was caught up in his 
poems, which took various forms according to his mood at the 
time, either in Chinese, or in classical Japanese of thirty-one 
syllables, or in the shorter form of seventeen syllables, or in the 



Style of folk song, or in the Mannyo style of many syllables. He 
was quite an expert in all these compositions, but not conven- 
tionally bound by literary rules, which he frequently ignored. 
The other favorite form in which he gave expression to his inner 
life was calligraphy.^ In our case, his literary products will bet- 
ter lead us into his inward sentiments. He sings of a solitary old 
pine tree at Kugami: 

At Kugami, 

In front of the Otono, 

There stands a solitary pine tree, 

Surely of many a generation; 

How divinely dignified 
It stands there! 

In the morning 
I pass by it; 

In the evening 
I stand underneath it. 

And standing I gaze. 

Never tired 

Of this solitary pine! 

There must have been something intensely fascinating about 
this ancient tree. In fact, every old tree of any sort inspires a 
beholder with a mystic feeling which leads him to a faraway 
world of timeless eternity. 

There was another pine tree at Iwamuro which deeply stirred 
his feeling of pity. The tree must have been a young one, with 
no stately outstretching branches. It was raining hard, and 
Ryokwan saw it all drenched: 

At Iwamuro, 

In the middle of the field 
A solitary pine stands; 

How I pity this solitary pine, 

^ One example is given in plate 62. 



Standing all alone 

Thoroughly drenched in shoicers; 

If it uere a human being, 

I ii ould give him a raincoat, 

I iiould help him uith a rainhat: 

Pitiful, indeed, this solitary tree! 

Japan is the country of pine trees and cedars. The latter are 
seen to their best advantage in a group or in a row. and the 
former are fine when they stand singly. The Japanese species of 
the pine known as matsu generally spreads its branches irregu- 
larly and the trunk is gnarled. A solitary old pine tree growing 
for ever so many years in front of your room is such a con- 
soling friend for the scholar or monk. Ryokwan’s attitude to- 
M'ard the tree in the field drenched in rain was naturally that of 
pity, but with Saigyo the tree stood in a different environment, 
and the man was of a different type of character, at least in a 
different mood of spirit at the time. Hence the ^ollo^\ing jjoems 
of Saigyo: 

For a long time to come. 

Stand here as thriving as ever. 

And remember our companion days, 

Even after my death, 0 Pine! 

For I am the one ivho lives in the world 
Unknown, unloved. 

Tired of staying here 

If I start my wandering again, 

0 Pine, would you not be solitary? 





R Y 6 K w A N , the lover of trees, was also a great friend of the 
louse, perhaps also of the flea, of the mosquito, and so on. He 
had a tender human feeling for all beings. One interesting, 
though not quite engaging, incident recorded of him is his care 
for the louse. The story is illustrative of his general attitude 
toward other forms of life. He was often seen, during the early 
warm winter days, giving the lice a sun bath and exercise 
in the air. By taking them out one by one from his underwear 
onto sheets of paper, he exposed them in the sun. Before it 
begins to be too cool in the afternoon, they will be picked up 
and taken back into his own fudokoro, as he says: 

O lice, lice, 

If you tv ere the insects 
Singing in the autumn fields. 

My chest (fudokoro) would really be 
For you the Musashino prairie. 

The subject may not be very edifying, I am afraid, but his 
genuine, unadulterated love for such creatures has in it some- 
thing tender and touching. Our modern idea of hygienic clean- 
liness has much to say about harboring beings of this class, but 
it was not very long ago, I am told, that in England gentlemen 
and ladies of the higher classes were not exempt from vermin, 
that the wearing of wigs over their heads was indeed partly due 
to their annoying presence, and that even these wigs were often 
full of nits. One scientist notes that “even long into the eighteenth 
century, lice were regarded as necessities.” Further, he notes 
that George Washington in his fourteenth year copied a para- 
graph on “Rules of Civility” which contains the following re- 
markable statements: “Kill no vermin, as Fleas, lice, tics, etc. in 

^ Dr. Hans Zinsser, ‘"History of the Louse.” in the Atlantic Monthly, Jan- 
uary, 1935. 





the sight of others, if you See any filth or thick Spittle, put your 
foot Dexterously upon it; if it be upon the Cloths of your Com- 
panions, put it off privately, and if it be upon your own Cloths, 
return thanks to him who puts it off.” “ 

Ryokwan was a great lover of children, as might be expected 
of such a character as he who was himself a child. He liked to 
play with them, he played hide-and-seek, he played temari 
(“handball”), too. One evening it was his turn to hide, and he 
hid himself well under a strawstack in the field. It was growing 
darker and the children not being able to locate him left the 
field. Early in the following morning a farmer came and had to 
remove the strawstack to begin his work. Finding Ryokwan 
there, he exclaimed, “0 Ryokwan sama, what are you doing 
here?” The poet-lunatic answered, “Hush! don’t talk so loud! 
The children will find me.” Did he wait for the children 
all night under the straw? Did it never occur to him that the 
young ones were just as deceiving and untrustworthy as the 
grownups? But to reason like this is our human way in this 
world of unrealities; he perhaps followed another order of 
reasoning, that of burning the roof to save the bamboo shoot. It 
was his simplicity that made him spend the whole night in the 
open field with the controlling idea of hiding from his young, 
guileless, but occasionally mischievous, friends. The story being 
somewhat extreme, its genuineness may be suspected, but the 
fact that it has been in circulation conclusively proves his readi- 
ness at any moment to follow this pattern of action. 

These days we live under such varied rules of convention. 
We are really slaves to ideas and notions, fashions and tradi- 
tions, w'hich constitute the psychological background or what is 
now popularly called the ideology of modern people in the 
organization. We can never act as Whitman advises. \^’e are in 
a state of complete slavery, although we may not realize it or, 
rather, are not willing to admit it. When we see Ryokwan giving 
himself up to the free movement of his feelings, which are 



thoroughly purged, to follow the conventional parlance of all 
egotistically oriented defilements, we feel as refreshed as if we 
were transported into another world. In his love of children 
we recognize the same psychological trait of independence and 
spontaneity that was exhibited in his feeling for a solitary pine 
tree and a bamboo shoot breaking through the floor. His love 
of playing temari and oteJama with children is also indicative 
of his free playful spirit, which we all have but are constrained 
from indulging in, imagining that such playing is below the dig- 
nity of grownups. 

bile playing temari and otedama,^ winnings are reckoned 
by singing a popular ditty. Tlie bouncing of the temari, the 
turning of hands, and the rhythmic chant of voices — however 
simple, they perhaps help to give expression to Ryokwan’s 
simple and undeceiving spirit. This is of a piece with his liking 
to dance a primitive village dance on festival occasions. He was 
once found dancing with the villagers, disguised as a young 
woman. One of the dancers nearby, recognizing Ryokwan, made 
a remark about his or rather her being a good dancer, pur- 
posely audible enough for Ryokwan to overhear it. It is said 
that Rydkwan later mentioned it to his friends with a feeling 
of elation. 


THERE IS in every one of us a desire to return to a simpler 
form of living, which includes simpler ways of expressing feel- 
ings and also of acquiring knowledge. The so-called “way of the 
gods” points to it. Although I do not know exactly what signifi- 
cation the advocates of Kamiiiagara no michi want to give to 
this term, it seems to be certain to my mind that by this they 
wish to mean going back to or retaining or reviving the way 
in ivhich the gods are supposed to have lived before the arrival 

Tiu"-e ganu"' whic forinerl) {tlayeJ mo'-lly by little girl^. 



of humankind. This way was one of freedom, naturalness, and 
spontaneity. How did we go astray from this? Here lies a great 
fundamental religious problem. Its solution gives the key to 
understanding some aspects of Zen Buddhism and of the Japa- 
nese love of Nature. hen we speak of being natural, we mean 
first of all being free and spontaneous in the expression of our 
feelings, being immediate and not premeditating in our response 
to environment, not making any calculation as to the effect of 
our doings either on others or on ourselves, and conducting 
ourselves in such a way as not to leave room for thought of 
gain, value, merit, or consequence. To be natural means, there- 
fore, to be like a child, though not necessarily with a child's 
intellectual simplicity or its emotional crudity. In a sense, the 
child is a bundle of egotistic impulses, hut in its assertion of 
these it is altogether ‘'natural.'’ it has no scrupulousness, no 
deliberation as regards practical and worldly merit or demerit. 
In this respect the child is angelic, even divine. It ignores all the 
social devices that keep grownups decent and conventional and 
law-abiding. It is living under no such artificial, human-made 
constraints. The practical outcome of such behavior may not 
always be acceptable to the taste of so-called cultivated, refined, 
sophisticated people of the world. But the question here is not 
one of such practical considerations but of the genuineness of 
motive, the disinterestedness of feeling, and the immediateness 
of response. \^'hen there is thus no crookedness in one’s heart, 
we say that one is natural and childlike. In this there is some- 
thing highly religious, and angels are represented sometimes as 
babies with wings. And this is the reason why the Zen artists 
have a special liking for painting Kanzan and Jittoku, or Hotel 
with a group of children. 

Going back to Nature, therefore, does not mean going back 
to the natural life of primitive and prehistoric peoples. It means 
a life of freedom and emancipation. The one thing that hampers 
and complicates our modern life, especially, is the concept of 
teleology, which we are all made to feel in every phase of our 




life. The concept is all right as far as our moral, economic, 
intellectual, and terrestrial existence is concerned, but this ex- 
istence of ours means far more than all these considerations; 
for we never feel completely satisfied with them, we seek for 
something going really far deeper than the merely moral and 
intellectual. As long as we are on the plane of the teleological 
conception of existence, we are in no way free. And not being 
free is the cause of all the worries, all the miseries, all the 
conflicts, that are going on in this world. 

To be thus free from all conditioning rules or concepts is the 
essence of the religious life. When we are conscious of any 
purpose whatever in our movements, we are not free. To be 
free means purposelessness, which of course does not mean 
licentiousness. The idea of a purpose is something the human 
intellect reads into certain forms of movement. When teleology 
enters into our life, we cease to be religious, we become moral 
beings. So with art. When purpose is too much in evidence in a 
work of art, so called, art is no longer there, it becomes a 
machine or an advertisement. Beauty runs away, ugly human 
hands become altogether too visible. Suchness in art consists 
in its artlessness, that is, purposelessness. In this, art approaches 
religion; and Nature is a perfect specimen of art inasmuch as 
there is no visible purpose in the waves rolling on from the 
beginningless past in the Pacific Ocean, and in Mount Fuji 
covered with ancient snow, standing absolutely pure high against 
the sky. In the flower we, as beings obsessed with utilitarian 
ideas, may read its going to seed, and in seeds the harboring 
of a life for the coming years: but from the religious aesthetical 
angle of observation, flowers as flowers are red or yellow, and 
leaves as leaves are green, and in this all utilitarian and 
teleological or biological conceptions are excluded. 

We admire a machine most exquisitely and most delicately 
balanced and most efficiently working, but we have no feeling 
of going toward it: it is a thing altogether distinct from us. 
which stands here ready to obey our commands. Not only that. 



we know every part of it mechanically and the purpose for 
which it is set to work; there is no mystery, as it were, in 
the whole eonstruction of it; there are no secrets, there is no 
autonomous creativeness here; everything is thoroughly ex- 
plainable, subject to laws discovered by physics or dynamics 
or chemistry or some other science. Yet an ink sketch composed 
of a few strokes of the artist's brush — apparently very crudely 
executed — awakens in us the deepest of feelings and engages 
the attention of our whole being. In the same way, when we 
face nature, our whole being goes into it and feels every 
pulsation of it as if it were our own. To speak of an identification 
is a desecration, for it is a mechanical and logical conception, 
which does not apply to this phase of our life. And this is 
where Zen Buddhism has its realm, it is the corner from which lO'i 
people like Ryokwan survey the world. 


I c -A N N o T help making reference in this connection to the 
Nirvana picture of the Buddha. This may not seem to be a fit [B 
subject to be introduced here. Wliat has the Nirvana picture to 
do with the Japanese love of Nature or with Zen Buddhism, one 
may argue? But what I wish to see in the picture, as it is 
generally painted in Japan, has some significant bearing on the 
Buddhist attitude toward Nature. And as the picture has much 
to do with the Zen monasteries in Japan, and further as the 
picture has an unusual fascination for the Japanese generally, 

I will point out here one or tw'O facts regarding the Nirvana 
scene of the Buddha. 

I have not yet been able to trace the historical development 
of the Nirvana conception as we have it today. As tradition 
ascribes the first idea or rather the first authorship of the picture 
to Wu Tao-tzu. the well-reputed painter of the T ang era, it is 
likely that it originated first in China. But I have at present 



no means of ascertaining how far and how strongly it has 
taken hold of the imagination of the Chinese people. It is cer- 
tainly in Japan that it has entered deeply into the religious 
consciousness of the peojde. The picture has come to be inti- 
mately connected with the Buddhist life of Japan, especially 
^vith Zen. There must be something in it which appeals power- 
fully to us all. 

The one prominent feature of the Nirvana picture is. naturally, 
the central figure and his quiet passing away, surrounded by 
his disciples. Contrast this with the crucifixion of Christ, with 
blood oozing from the head and the side. He is stretched up- 
right agrdnst the cross, with an expression of tlie utmost pain 
and suffering, whereas the Buddha looks as if contentedly 
asleep on the couch, with no signs of distress. The vertical 
Christ represents an intense spirit of fight, but the horizontal 
Buddlia is peaceful, '^’hcn we look at the latter, everything that 
goes against the spirit of contentment is excluded from our 

The Buddha lies contented, not only with himself but with 
all the world and with all its beings animate and inanimate. 
Look at those animals, those gods, and those trees that are 
weeping over his parting. To my mind this is a scene pregnant 
with meaning of the utmost significance. Is it not a strong 
demonstration of the fact that the Buddhists are not at war with 
Nature, but that they and Nature are one in living the life of 
the Dharma? 

This idea and the real feeling of living one and the same 
life in the Dharma makes the Buddhists feel at once at home 
with surrounding Nature. Wlten they listen to the crying of 
a mountain bird they recognize the voice of their parents; 
when they see the lotus flowers in the pond, they discover in 
them the untold glory and magnificence of the Buddha-Ksetra, 
or Buddha-realm. Even when they encounter an enemy and take 
his life for the sake of a greater cause, they pray for him so as 
to have their own merit turn toward his future salvation. 




This is, further, the reason why they have the so-called soul- 
consoling rite performed for the morning-glories which are 
weeded out to give room to the better-qualified kind, or for all 
kinds of poor animals who are killed for various reasons to 
help humanity, or for the painters’ worn-out brushes which 
served them in so many useful ways to produce their master- 
pieces in varied styles. The love of Nature of the Japanese is 
thus seen to be deeply colored with their religious insight and 
feeling. The Nirvana picture in this respect is illuminating, as 
it sheds much light on the Japanese psychology. 

It was due, I am told, to the genius of the Sung Zen monk- 
artists that the Buddha or Bodhisattvas came to be painted [C 
along with the animals and plants. Until then, the Buddha and 
Bodhisattvas were represented as beings transcending the reach 
of human feelings; they were supernatural beings, as it were. 

But when Zen came to control the religious consciousness of 
the Chinese and the Japanese people, it took away from Buddhist 
figures that aloof, unconcerned, rather unapproachable air \vliich 
had hitherto characterized them. They came clown from the 
transcendental pedestal to mingle with us common beings and 
with common animals and plants, rocks and mountains. hen 
they talked, stones nodded their heads, and plants pricked up 
their ears. That is the reason why tlie Buddha's Nirvana is so 
intimately shared by all forms of being as we observe in the 

The famous Nirvana picture of the Tofukuji Zen monastery, 
at Kyoto, was painted by one of its monks, Clio Densu ( 1352— 
1431), one of the greatest painters of Japan. It is one of the 
largest hanging pictures of this class in Japan, measuring about 
39 by 26 feet. It is said that, at the time of a civil war which 
devastated the greater part of Kyoto early in the sixteenth 
century, the army of the Ilosokawa family utilized this Nirvana 
picture for screening their camp from the winds. There is a 
legend in connection with the production of this renowned pic- 
ture which is characteristic of the Buddhist philosophy of life. 

38 o 


When Cho Densu was engaged in this grand work, a cat used 
to visit him and sit by him watching the progress of the 
picture. The artist, who wanted ultramarine in mineral form, 
playfully remarked, “If you are good enough to bring me the 
stuff I want, I will have your picture in this Nirvana.” The cat 
had been generally missing, for some unknown reason, in Nirvana 
pictures executed until tben. Hence Cho Densu’s remark. And, 
miraculously enough, the following day the cat brought him the 
painting ingredient he wanted and, besides, led him to the place 
where it could be found in abundance. The artist’s delight was 
beyond measure, and to keep his word he painted the cat in 
his Nirvana picture, for which that cat has ever since had a 
nationwide reputation. Is it not a strange story? And it well 
illustrates the Buddhist attitude toward animals, which is also 
that of the Japanese people. 


IN FACT, Japanese literature abounds with stories of this kind. 
But instead of citing more stories, it will suit our purpose better 
to give just a few more references from the history of Japanese 
culture, wherein an intense appreciation of the objects of Nature 
is expressed by our poets and artists. And the significant fact is 
that these objects are not necessarily confined to things com- 
monly considered beautiful or those suggestive of an order 
beyond this evanescent and ever-changing world. Changeability 
itself is frequently the object of admiration. For it means move- 
ment, progress, eternal youthfulness, and it is associated with 
the virtue of non-attachment, which is characteristically Buddhis- 
tic as well as an aspect of Japanese character. 

The morning-glory is one of the most common flowering plants 
in Japan. It is quite an art in the cultivators to make the 
plant yield to their artistic treatment, and competitive exhibi- 
tions take place early in summer everywhere in Japan. There 




are so many changing conditions to be taken into consideration 
when one hopes for fine large flowers on the vine. But ordinarily 
it will bloom profusely throughout the summer, over the country 
fences, walls, hedges, and anywhere. The one peculiarity is that 
it blooms fresh every morning, and there are never any of 
yesterday’s flowers. However splendid the flowers are this morn- 
ing, they fade even before noon of the same day. This 
evanescent glory has appealed very much to the Japanese 

I do not know whether this momentaristic tendency in Japa- 
nese psychology is in their native blood or is due in some 
measure to the Buddhist Weltanschauung; but the fact is, beauty 
is something momentary and ever-fleeting, and if it is not 
appreciated while it is fully charged with life, it becomes a 
memory, and its liveliness is entirely lost. This is exemplified 
in the morning-glory: 

Each morn as the sun rises, 

The flowers are newly fashioned. 

Glorious in their first aivakening to life; 

Who says the creeper is short-lived? 

It keeps on blooming so long. 

Beauty is ever alive, because for it there is no past, no 
future, but the present. You hesitate, turn your head, and it is 
no more. The morning-glory must be admired at its first awaken- 
ing as the sun rises; so it is with the lotus. This is the w'ay 
the Japanese people have learned from Zen teaching how to 
love Nature, how to be in touch with the life running through 
all objects including human beings. 

Another poem runs thus: 

The pine tree lives for a thousand years. 

The morning-glory but for a single day; 

Yet both have fulfilled their destiny. 

There is no fatalism in this. Each moment pulsates with life 




both in the pine tree and in the morning-glory. The worth of 
this moment is not measured hy the one thousand years of the 
one and the single day of the other, but by the moment itself. 
For this is absolute in each of them. Therefore, beauty is not 
to be spoiled by the thought of fatalism or of evanescence. 

When Chiyo (1703—75), the haiku poetess to whom reference 
has already been made in a previous section, found the morning- 
glory blooming around the well, her mind was so occupied with 
its beauty and with a feeling of holiness that she had no desire 
to disturb the flower for any practical purpose. The plant could 
easily and quietly have been removed from the rope or pole 
around vrhich it probably was entwined. But the idea never 
occurred to her. The sense of beauty and holiness was something 
that should not be defiled by mundane hands. Hence her poem 
( see pp. 2-14 ff. ) . What may be called a divine inspiration 
flashes upon our consciousness at the sight of an object of 
nature — which is not necessarily beautiful but mav even be 
ugly, from the so-called common-sense point of view. When this 
takes place, we are so raised from our earthly occupations that 
merely giving vent to the experience may sound curiously factual 
and prosaic and even sacrilegious. It is only when we are 
elevated to the same height that we can grasp the full meaning 
of tlie utterance and see into the secrets that are concealed in 
the poet’s feeling for nature. 

The frog does not ordinarily seem a beautiful creature, but 
when it is found perching on a lotus or basho leaf still fresh 
with the morning dew, it stirs the haiku poet’s imagination. 

A solitary frog drenched in rain 

Rides on a basho leaf, 


A quiet summer scene is depicted by means of a green-backed 
amphibious animal. To some, an incident like this may seem too 
insignificant to call out any poetical comment, but to the Japa- 
nese, especially to the Buddhist Japanese, nothing that takes 



place in the world is insignificant. The frog is just as important 
as the eagle or the tiger; every movement of it is directly con- 
nected with the primary source of life, and in it and through 
it one can read the gravest religious truth. Hence Bashu's poem 
on a frog leaping into the ancient pond in his park. This leap 
is just as weighty a matter as the Fall of Adam, for there is 
here, too, a truth revealing the secrets of creation. 

By a little kitten 

Sniffed at. 

Creeps the slug unconcerned. 

Here is also a bit of human playfulness and sweetness. Refer- 
ences to such happenings in Nature are constantly met with 
throughout Japanese literature, but especially in haiku poetry, 
which developed wonderfully during the Tokugawa period. 
The haiku is singularly concerned with little living things, such as 
flies of all kinds, lice, fleas, bugs, the singing insects, birds, frogs, 
cats, dogs, fishes, turtles, and so on. It is also deeply con- 
cerned with vegetables, plants, rocks, mountains, and rivers. 
And, as we know, the haiku is one of the most popular methods 
used by the Japanese people to express their philosophical 
intuitions and poetic appreciation of Nature. In the feeling 
compressed within the smallest number of syllables, we detect 
the soul of Japan transparently reflected, showing how poetically 
or intuitively sensitive it is toward Nature and its objects, non- 
sentient as well as sentient. 

It goes without saying that the haiku embodies the spirit of the 
Basho, its modern founder, and tliat the spirit of Basho is the 
spirit of Zen expressing itself in the seventeen syllables. This 
has already been fully explained and illustrated in the section 
on the haiku and Zen. 





PRO BAB LA’ the best way to illustrate the Japanese love of 
Mature in relation to the spirit of Zen Burlclhism is to analyze 
the various concepts that have entered into the construction of 
the tearoom or teahouse where the art of tea. so called, is 
conducted in accordance with a set of rules. The rules have 
not by any means been arhitrarilv compiled, but they have 
gradually and unconsciously grown out of the artistically trained 
minds of the teamasters; and in the composition of these minds 
we find the Japanese instinct for Mature thoroughly disciplined 
in the philosophy of Zen. morally, aesthetically, and intellectu- 
ally. When we know all about the tea — its history, its practice, 
its conditions, its spiritual background, and also the moral 
atmosphere radiating from it — we can say that we also com- 
prehend the secrets of Japanese psychology. The subject is 
highly interesting, but as it requires a lengthy treatment, it is 
deferred to another occasion.' 

Let me describe a tearoom in one of the temples attached to 
Daitokuji. the Zen temple which is the headquarters of the tea. 
Where a series of flagstones irregularly arranged comes to a 
stop, there stands an insignificant-looking straw-thatched hut, 
low and unpretentious to the last degree. The entrance is not by 
a door but by a sort of aperture; to enter through it, a visitor 
has to be shorn of all his encumbrances, that is to say. both 
his swords, long and short, which in the feudal days a samurai 
used to carry all the time. The inside is a small semi-lighted 
room about ten feet square; the ceiling is low and of uneven 
height and structure. The posts are not smoothly planed and 
finished, they are mostly of natural wood. After a little while. 

Something of the art of tea has been said in the previous sections; cf. 
pp. 271 ff.. abote. They by no means exhaust all that is meant by the art of tea. 
To treat the subject fully would be (juite a serious piece of work. 

Mother monkey 



C. Mu-ch’i (Mokkei). Triptych. Late 13th centi*y 



however, the room grows gradually lighter as our eyes begin 
to adjust to the new situation. We notice an ancient-looking 
kakemono in the alcove, with some handwriting or a picture 
of sumiye. An incense burner emits a smoke of fragrance, 
which has the singular effect of soothing one’s nerves. The 
flower vase does not contain more than a single flower stem, not 
at all gorgeous or ostentatious; but, like a little white lily 
blooming under a rock surrounded by the somber pines, the 
humble flower in these surroundings is enhanced in beauty and 
attracts the attention of the small gathering. 

Now we listen to the sound of boiling water in the kettle, 
resting on a tripod over a fire in the square hole cut in the 
floor. The sound is not actually that of boiling water but comes 
from the heavy iron kettle, and it is most appropriately likened 
by the connoisseur to a breeze that passes through the pine 
grove. It adds greatly to the serenity of the room, for a man 
here feels as if he were sitting alone in a mountain hut where a 
white cloud and the pine music are his only consoling com- 

To take a cup of tea with friends in this environment, talking 
probably about the sumiye sketch in the alcove or some artistic 
topic suggested by the tea utensils in the room, lifts the mind 
above the perplexities of life. The warrior is saved from his 
daily occupation of fighting, the businessman from his ever- 
present idea of moneymaking. Is it not something, indeed, to 
find in this world of struggles and vanities a corner, however 
humble, where a man can rise above the limits of relativity and 
have even a glimpse of eternity? 



THE FOLLOW IXG verses on tlie cherries are freely culled 
from Japanese poetry in order to show how passionately the 
people of Japan are attached to flowers, in fact to all objects 
of Nature. This feeling is not necessarily connected with the 
teaching of Zen, hut, as I have said elsewhere. Zen helped a 
great deal to deepen the aesthetic sensibility of the Japanese 
mind and finally to root it in the religious intuitions that rise 
from a mystic understanding of Nature. 

As before, the translations are almost literal, with just enough 
explanation to make the original sense intelligible in the Eng- 
lish dress. Like poems in any language, those in Japanese cannot 
he rendered into a foreign language with all their subtle senti- 
ments and literary artistries. Incidentally, let me remark that, 
as with sumiye painting, the Japanese mind has managed to 
express its poetic feelings in the fewest possible number of 
words. The iiaka of thirty-one syllables has become the haiku of 
seventeen. Some think that the Japanese mind has not yet quite 
differentiated philosophy from life and ideas from immediate ex- 
periences; that is to say. it has not yet attained to the highest 
degree of intellectuality; and that for this reason it is still satis- 
fied with the shortest poetic form, such as the waka or haiku, in 
which no marshaling of ideas, no intellectual unfolding of highly 
developed feelings, is practicable. Others state that the Japanese 
vocabulary is poor and limited and that with such a medium no 
great poetry is produced. These criticisms may be true as far 
as they go, but all generalizations are only expressive of partial 



truth. The reason for Japanese poetry still awaits adequate 
analysis in various terms, including the psychological, philo- 
sophical, and historical background in which it has thrived. 

One thing at least that I may remark about Japanese poetry 
is that, being short, it omits making specific references to ideas, 
experiences, and surroundings leading up to its composition 
and also to those derivable from it. These omissions are to be 
supplied by the reader, who, therefore, must be very well ac- 
quainted with the physical and psychological setting in which 
the poet lives. The genius consists in selecting a few significant 
reference points by which he is able to make the reader effectively 
conjure up all the poetic associations contained in his seventeen 
syllables. But we must remember that the secrets of the haiku are 
not necessarily in its mere suggestibility. 

To give a few examples. Ryota, of the eighteenth century, has 
a haiku expressing his feeling for the moon which, after having 
been hidden from him night after night because of so many 
continuous spring rainfalls, appears softly and unexpectedly 
through the pine trees. This must have been a most delightful 
surprise to him. The rainy season in Japan is very gloomy and 
trying to those tvho love the spring moonlight in the evening, 
when its tender, mellow, relaxing shadow is cast all over the 
hazy, vaporous earth. 

In the June rains. 

One night, as if by stealth 
The moon, through the pines. 

The haiku as it stands in Japanese is no doubt unintelligible to 
most English readers, while its Chinese translation in four lines, 
with five characters to each line, gives a fuller idea: 

’’Tis midsummer, and my grass hut is dreary; 

Every evening I fall asleep to the sound of rain. 

Suddenly the full moon hangs \in the sAy], 

And the shadow of the pine tree on my garden.^ 

^ Tr. Basil Hall Chanibprlain, in “Ba^ho anti the Epigram.” pt. iv of his 
Japanese Poetry. 



Tentoku’s humanitarianism called out the following haiku, 
which has now become a proverb: 

First snoic this! 

That also mail’s child. 


This is to all appearance nonsensical. To the Japanese who 
know the first snow of the year and also what a barrel-picker 
in feudal days means, the present haiku is full of pathos. The 
day of the first snowfall is probably the first cold day of winter, 
but it is at the same time the day for the leisure class to have 
a friendly little sake party at a suburban restaurant with 
a fine garden. The poet was also in all likelihood on his way 
to such a party 'ivhen he saw a poor boy picking up small sake 
casks thrown out in the streets. The boy was not warmly clad — 
in tatters probably — and barefooted. This called forth the poet’s 
sympathy. The boy is also a man’s child, and why sliould he have 
to suffer so when there are many others of the same age luxuri- 
ating in rich idleness? The sense of justice asserts itself. If he 
had been a Hood he would surely have written a “Song of the 

A waka or uta has thirty-one syllables and can e.xpress some- 
what more than a haiku, but words of comment are often found 
necessary to connect merely suggested thoughts. One of the rea- 
sons why ivaka did not expand into more syllables is that when 
the Japanese poet wanted to express himself more fully he had 
recourse to what may be called a “prose poem,” of which we 
have various forms in Japanese literature. 

The following poems on the cherry are divided into four head- 
ings: the first (A) is concerned chiefly with the wind and rain, 
which are always apt to scatter the flowers too soon. They are 
not lasting flowers in any way, only about a week in bloom. 
They all burst out suddenly early in April, when the mountains 
and the riverbanks appear to be masses of flowers. This is es- 
pecially noticeable, as most trees are still bare then. The sec- 



ond group ( B ) sings of the glorious sight when the cherry blooms 
are all out. It is really a magnificent view to see — for instance, 
the whole mountain of Yoshino covered with gorgeous flowers, 
mostly pink. Let a warm relaxing sun shine on them through 
the hazy atmosphere, and the whole populace of Tokyo or Kyoto 
will altogether lose their heads. The third group ( C ) refers 
to the spirit of the flower in whatever way it may be interpreted 
by the poets. The last group ( D ) depicts their anxious hopes 
that the cherries bloom. One thing, at least, which makes the 
Japanese think so much of them is that they are to us the symbol 
of the spring. When they are in bloom, the season reaches its 
height, days grow longer, and we are glad that winter is really 


Where is the shelter of the flower-scattering Wind? 

Can anyone tell me? 

For I want to see him at his home. 

And lodge my complaint. 

SosEi THE Monk (Tenth Century) 

7 thought this teas the frontier gate,'^ 

Where no winds were allowed to pass [as the name 
indicates] ; 

But, lo, the mountain path is streivn 

Wdth the fallen petals of the cherries! 

Mi.xamoto Yoshiiye 110-51-1108) 

* This was composed at the Na-ko-so frontier gate. Na-ko-so literally means 
“do not eotne."’ 

" Yoshii) e of the IMinamoto clan was a great soldier, especially skilled in 
archery and understanding furyti. ^hen he defeated Ahe Sadatd at the Fort 
of Robes, he sent to him the following in \erse form: 

Ah, your Fort of Robes 
Is at last reduced to tatters! 

Not to be defeated in this, Sadatu immediately responded: 

K'hat a pity! 

Long usage has caused 
The threads to near out. 




W'hat a pity, O cherry blossoms, so hurriedly scattering 

Why not follow the spirit of Spring, 

So peaceful, so relaxing, so eternally contented? 

FujnvARA Toshinari ( 1114 - 1204 ) 

Let us not blame the wind, indiscriminately , 

That scatters the flowers so ruthlessly; 

1 think it is their own desire to pass away before their 
time has come. 

JiYEN THE Monk ( 1155 - 1225 ) 

Nowhere is the spring now. 

I blame neither the wind nor the ivorld; 

For even in the remotest parts of } oshino 
The cherries are visible no more. 

Fujiwara Sadaiye ( 1162 - 1241 ) ^ 


Advanced in age. Pm old indeed — 

No gainsaying this — 

But as I look at these blossoming cherries. 

How cheered up 1 feel in spirit! 

Fujiwara Yoshifusa ( 804 - 72 ) 

There comes a wood-gatherer 

W'alking down the meandering mountain path: 

“Tell me, 0 my friend. 

Those on the peak, are they cherry blossoms, 
or clouds?” 

Minanioto no Yorimasa ( 1104 - 80 ) 

One of the compilers of Shin Kokinshu. This new collection of waka 
poems, cuntainin" the best specimens in the time of the ex-Emperor Gotoba, 
was edited in 1205 under the personal superintendence of the ex-Eniperor. 



The long-cherished desire of my heart, year after year. 

To see the Yoshino cherries in bloom — 

Fulfilled today! 

Toyotomi Hideyosiii ( 1536 - 98 ) ^ 

Floiv radiant, yet how peaceful and relaxing. 

The spirit of Spring is! 

Surely out of this spirit 

All these blossoming mountain cherries burst. 

Kamo no Mablciii ( 1697 - 1769 ) 

JVould that all people inhabiting this globe 
Come to this land of ours. 

Come to this mountain of Yoshino, 

And look at the cherries in full bloom! 

Kamo no Mablciii 

Choosing these long spring days as most opportune, 

The cherries have their blooming season; 

As 1 gaze at them, I think of the ancient days of 
the gods — [(/av5 of contentment^. 

IsiiiKAivA Yorihira ( 1791 - 1859 ) 

Yoshino-rama behind the mists — 

/ know not how it is; 

But, as far as my sight extends. 

There’s nothing but a mass of blossoming cherries. 

Hatta Tomonori ( 1799 - 1874 ) 

Dressed in scarlet-colored armor, and wearing 
an ancient sword, 

I icould be a more appropriate sight 
Amidst these mountain cherries in full glory. 

OciiiAi Naoblmi ( 1861 - 1903 ) 

® For his liking for the art of tea, see pp. 301 11. and 318 £1. in the section on 
the art of tea. 



Saigyo, to whom frequent references have already been made 
in the present work, is an indelible name not only in the history 
of Japanese literature but in that of Buddhist influence on Japa- 
nese culture. He belongs to the pre-Zen period, hut his spirit, his 
understanding of Nature, and his ardent aspiration to live with 
Nature, to be always one with Nature, connect him closely with 
Sesshu, Rikyu, Basho, and many others. In fact Basho groups 
himself with Saigyo as belonging to the same class. Saigyo’s love 
for the cherries was such as to make him utter this: 

My prayer is to die underneath the 
blossoming cherry. 

In that spring month of flowers, 

IF hen the moon is full. 

In Japan and China, the death of the Buddha is recorded as hav- 
ing taken place on the fifteenth day of the second moon I of 
the lunar calendar ) . Hence Saigyo’s wish to die about that time, 
when the cherries are also likely to be blooming. The second 
moon generally corresponds to late March or early April of our 
calendar. Saigyo’s prayer was fulfilled, for he died on the six- 
teenth day of the second moon in the first year of Kenkyu 
(1190). His attachment to the cherries went even beyond his 
grave, for his request was: 

Make the offering to Buddha of cherry blossoms. 

If people of the future should think of me. 

Among other poems on the cherries, Saigyo has these, showing 
how passionately he was in love with them as well as with other 
objects of Nature: 

Unknown and unadmired, even I live on in 
this world; 

Why do these cherries then pass away 

So heartlessly from the sight of the admiring 




At this late date, no flowers could forget the 

They will soon he out, no doubt. 

Leisurely awaiting then, I would pass this day 
under these trees. 

I feel deeply concerned to find 

On which mountaintops 

The cherries begin to floiver first: 

Hotv I long to see them! 

He was also, as most Japanese are, a great lover of the moon. 

The moonlight singularly attracts the Japanese imagination, 
and any Japanese who ever aspired to compose a ivaha or a haiku 
would hardly dare leave the moon out. The meteorological con- 
ditions of the country have much to do witli this. The Japanese 
are lovers of softness, gentleness, semi-darkness, subtle sugges- 
tiveness, and everything in this category. They are not fiercely 
emotional. While they are occasionally surprised by earth- 
quakes, they like to sit quietly in the moonlight, enveloped in [d 
its pale, bluish, soul-consoling rays. They are generally averse 
to anything glaringly bright and stimulating and too distinctive 
in its individuality. The moonlight is illuminating enough, but 
owing to the atmospheric conditions all objects under it appear 
not too strongly individualized; a certain mystic obscurantism 
pervades, and this seems to appeal to the Japanese generally. 
Saigyo, all alone in his mountain retreat, communes with this 
spirit of Luna, of whom he cannot help thinking even after his 
death, or because of whom he is loath to pass away from this 
life although he may have no other attachments here. In fact, a 
Land of Purity is no other than the supermundane projection of 
such aesthetic-spiritual appreciations. 

Not a soul ever visits my hut 
Except the friendly light of the moon. 

Peeping through the woods. 




Some day I may have 
To pass away from this world, alas! 
For ever ivith a longing heart 
For the moon, for the moon! 


To the mountain village, this spring eve, 

1 come and listen to the monastery bell. 

Watching the cherries in bloom. 

And petals softly falling. 

Noin the Monk (Tenth Century) 

This ancient capital of Shiga is dilapidation 
itself now. 

Except for the mountain cherries. 

Blooming as gloriously as ever. 

Taira NO Tadanori (1144^84) 

The evening is come: 

1 make a lodging under yonder cherry tree. 

The flower tvill then be my host tonight. 

Taira no Tadanori 

Blooming, and then scattering. 

And leaving all to rain and wind — 

The cherries are no more now! 

But their spirit for ever remains unruffled. 

Date Ciiiniiio (1803-77) 


“Jf'hen the cherries begin to bloom. 
Let me know at once”: 




The mountain-man has not forgotten my word; 

I hear him come. “Saddle the horse, quick!” 

Minamoto no Yorimasa 

When at Yoshino the cherries are about to bloom, 

My heart is anxiously drawn to the white clouds 
Veiling the mountaintops these spring mornings. 

Sakawada Masatoshi ( 1580 - 1643 ) 






T O ILLUSTRATE further the way Zen treats of some 
important religio-philosophical problems, the following two 
examples are quoted from a Zen textbook ^ wliicb is extensively 
used and highly appraised by all Zen students. 


A MONK asked Taizui Hoshin (Ta-sui Fa-chen), of the T’ang 
dynasty, who was a disciple of Taian (Ta-an. d. 883) of Fuku- 
shu (Fu-chou): “When the kalpa-end fire breaks out and con- 
sumes all the worlds, I wonder if ‘this’ too is destroyed?” 
Taizui: ‘"Yes, destroyed!” 

^Hekigan-shu or Hekigan-rohu i Pi-yen Chi or Pi-yen Lu) , meaning “Blue 
Rock Collection” or “Blue Rock Record*,” is a composite work of Seccho 
Juken { Hsiieh-t’ou Chung-hsien, 980-1052) and Yengo Bukkwa (Yiian-wu Fo- 
kuo, 1062-1135), of the Sung dynasty. SeccliO selected one hundred “ca^c?” 
from the history of Zen and wrote a kind of conimentar\' on each of them in 
verse form. He had great literar>' talent*, and his \er*es were very much ad- 
mired. Later, Yengo, in response to hi? disciples’ request, lectured on Secchn’s 
one hundred cases together with the verses in at least two different lucalitie*. 
\engo, a? far as records go, had no intention of compiling a book out of his 
lectures or comments. But his monks took notes of them and kept the manu- 
script among themsehes. There were at lea*t two attempts among hi? disciple* 
— each quite independent of the other — to bring their notes together and put 
them in good order. The first took place in 1121 and the «econd in 1128. 
Apparently they worked in different localities. The text at present in circulation 
probably ba-cd on the book j>rinted in 130-1 un«!tT the Tuan d>na'-ty. 






Monk: “If so, does ‘it’ follow the rest?” 
Taizui: “Yes, ‘it’ does.” " 

On this mondo, Yengo gives his comments in the following 

Hoshin of Taizui was a disciple of Taian and a native of 
Entei (Yen-t'ing), in Tosen ( Tung-ch’uan ) . He studied Zen 
under more than sixty masters. While under Isan (Kuei-shan), 
he served in the kitchen, taking care of the fire ( huo-fou ) . One 
day Isan asked him, ‘"You have been here with me for some 
years, but you do not seem to know how to ask me a question 
and see how it goes.” Taizui said, “But what question should I 
ask you after all?” Isan proposed this, “If you don’t know, 
just ask, ‘What is the Buddha?’ ” Then Taizui at once put his 
hand over the master’s mouth and shut him up. Thereupon 
Isan remarked, “If you act like that, you may not get even one 
who will sweep the ground for you.” 

Taizui later returned to his native town, and at the foot of 
Mount Hoko (Peng-k’ou) he erected a little booth where he 
served tea to the passers-by for three years. Later, he was 
called to open up Mount Taizui, where a monastery was built. 
[Hence his name ‘’Taizui.”] One of tlie monks once asked 
him. “When the kalpa-end fire burns up all the worlds, will 
‘this’ ’ be destroyed or not?” 

This question comes from a Buddhist scripture in which the 
physical history of the universe is given as going through the 
four stages: “Coming to existence,” “Continuing to exist,” 
“Destruction,” and finally “Disappearance.” ^’hen conflagration 
takes place at the end of the kalpa (“age”), the flames rise up 
even to the third dhydria heaven. This monk does not really 
know the ultimate sense of the story as it is told in the 

- Hekigan-shu, case 29. See also Dentoroku (‘’Transmission of the Lamp”), 
fasc. XI. 

Shako in Japanese, che-ko in Chinese. 



Let us ask; “What is really meant by ‘this’ alluded to in 
the question?” Some give to it an intellectual interpretation, 
saying, “this” is the original nature of all beings. Taizui answered. 
“Yes, destroyed!” The monk further asked, ‘’Does ‘it’ then fol- 
low the rest?” Taizui said, “Yes. ‘it’ does.” This is misunder- 
stood by a number of people who are unable to get at its true 
signification, because they are given up to conceptualization. 
When Taizui declares that “this” is to follow the rest, where 
does it really go? If Taizui. on the other hand, said, “ ‘This’ 
does not follow the rest,” what then? Therefore, do we not 
have an ancient master stating that if you really wish to get 
intimately to the point, you should not ask any questions? * 

Later, there was another monk who asked the headmaster 
of Shuzan fHsiu-shanl; “When the kalpa-end fire breaks out. 
all the worlds are destroyed, and will ‘this’ be destroyed or not?” 

The master said, “No, not destroyed!” 

The monk asked again, "Why not?” 

“Because ‘this’ and all the worlds are identical” rvas the 
master’s answer. 

Indeed, whether you say “this” will be destroyed or whether 
you say “this” will not be destroyed — the outcome is the same; 
both statements are enough to stop the breath. 

The first monk who failed to understand Taizui was very 
much worried over the matter and went to Tosusan (T’ou 
Tzu-shan) of Joshu (Shu-chou), where he wished to solve the 
question with the help of the master there. 

Tosu the master asked. ‘‘Where do you come from?” 

Monk; “From Taizui of Western Shoku (Shu).” 

T5su; ‘‘What has Taizui to say?” 

The monk then recited the whole proceeding which took place 
at Mount Taizui regarding the destiny of “this.” Tosu rose from 
his seat and. burning incense and reverently bowing toward 
Mount Taizui, remarked, ‘‘A Buddha has appeared in Western 
Shoku; you make haste and go back to Mount Taizui.” 

Cf. St. Augustine 'fe idea of time: Confessionsy Rook XI, 17. 





The monk thereupon turned his steps ba'ck to Shoku, but when 
he reached Mount Taizui again — what a pity! — he found that 
his old master had already passed into Nirvana. 

Later in the T’ang. there was a monk by the name of Keijun 
( Ching-tsun) , who visited Mount Taizui and composed the fol- 
lowing poem in memory of Hoshin the Master: 

All is cleared up! Absolutely alone! 

W'ho says that End had his seal of transmission? ^ 

The dictum “It follows the rest” 

Has made the poor monk run over mountain after mountain. 

The crickets are chirping this cold night on the stone wall; 

The ghosts are seen worshiping in the shadow of the darken- 
ing lantern. 

All is quiet and serene note around the lonely shrine. 

And I find myself tvalking up and down deeply absorbed 
in thoughts inexpressible. 

[Seccho, as we see below, makes use of two lines of this 
poem in his versified comment on the puzzled monk. Says 
Yengo:] At this moment I warn you not to take "it” as de- 
structible or not-clestructible. "Where are we, then, ultimately?” 
you may ask. Keep your eyes open and see directly into the 
matter! Seccho comments: 

In the midst of the flaming kalpa-fire, a question is asked; 
The monk still hesitatingly stands against the dilemma. 
What a pity! the one phrase “it follows the rest” is proving 

Making him wander about all by himself with no end what- 

“This refers to the story of Eno (Hui-neng, d. 713), the sixth patriarch, 
who was given the inind-'ical of transmission by Gunin (Hung-jen, 602-675), 
the fifth patriarch, certifying Enh’s understanding of orthodox Zen. The idea is 
that there cannot he any such thing as transmitting the Dharnia from one 
individual to another. In the realm of '‘absolute emptiness” {sunyatd), no 
dichotomies are possible. 





Seccho’s verse is altogether opportune and exactly hits the 
mark, for he knows how to get through the dilemma, on which- 
ever horn he may be caught. It is all right when one says, 
“Destroyed!” It is all right, too, when the other says, “Not 
destroyed!” The only point that is absolutely important is to 
take hold of the truth itself, which transcends a dualistic in- 
terpretation of any sort. Otherwise, we shall have to follow 
the poor monk who travels back and forth over mountains and 
mountains with no time to rest. 


A MONK asked Hyakujo Yekai (Pai-chang Huai-hai, 720-814) ; 
“What is the most miraculous event in the world?” 

Hyakujo answered: “I sit here all by myself.” 

The monk then made a bow to the master, who struck him. 

Yengo comments: ® He who has a discerning eye has no hesita- 
tion in risking himself when necessary; for unless you venture 
into the tiger’s lair you can never capture a cub. Hyakujo is a 
great master; he is like a winged tiger. But this monk defying 
death was not afraid of touching the tiger’s whiskers. Hence his 
question: “What is the most miraculous event in the world?” 
He has a discerning eye, so Hyakujo takes the trouble to answer: 
“I sit here all by myself.” The monk makes a bow. This will 
be understood when one can go back to the time even prior to 
the monk’s questioning. The monk’s bow is not an ordinary 
one, the monk knows Hyakujo thorouglily. But good friends 
sometimes act as if they did not know each other, they refrain 
from giving expression to all that they have within themselves. 
The bow is followed with a stick. Here we see that when the 
master lets out, everything is at once set to right; when he draws 
in, all is wiped out and not a trace is left. 

^ Hekigan-shuy case 26 . 

f fc 



Let US ask: What is the idea of the monk’s howing? Is this 
properly done? If so, what is Hyakujo’s motive for striking 
him? If the bowing were not proper, where is the point that is 
not proper? When we come to this we find that a trained mind 
is needed, while standing at the highest peak, to distinguish 
between black and white, fair and foul. The monk’s bowing is 
like bearding the lion in his den, he knows where and how to 
turn his body about. It was fortunate that Hyakujo the old 
master was not to be deceived by the tricky behavior of the 
monk; he had an eye on his forehead and a charm under his 
arms, and this enabled him to detect at once what was in the 
mind of the one who was bowing before him. and he wielded 
his stick effectively. If it were somebody less than Hyakujo, he 
could not have done anything with the monk. 

This monk [on the other hand] knows how to meet a challenge 
with challenge of whatever sort it may be. Hence his bowing. 

Nansen Fugwan (Nan-ch’iian P’u-yiian, 748-834) once told 
his Brotherhood: ‘Tn the middle of last night, ManjusrI and 
Samantabhadra cherished the thought of Buddha, cherished the 
thought of the Dharma, and I gave each of them twenty blows 
of my stick and chased them away to the other side of the 
Mountains.” At the time, Joshu Jiishin fChao-chou Ts’ung-shen, 
778-897) came out of the congregation and said, “Who is going 
to be hit by your stick?” Nansen replied, “What fault do you 
find with this old man that I am?” Joshu bowed. 

The fully qualified Zen master very rarely overlooks where 
his opposing party stands, and. therefore, as soon as he notices 
a sign of something moving he at once starts his activity in 
the briskest manner. My old teacher Goso Hdyen (Wu-tsu Fa- 
yen, d. 1104) used to say: “It is like the game of wrestling — 
no time for deliberation is allowed. All that comes in through 
the senses, all that belongs to the realm of seeing and hearing, 
have them all at once put aside. When thus you take hold of 
yourself and become master of yourself, you will be able to see 
where Hyakujo is.” 





But what would happen if you let go? Let us see what 
Seccho would say on this point: 

LooA: al the Pegasus that freely gallops all over the patri- 
archal fields! 

When he comes down in the world of multitudes, rolling up, 
spreading out, how free and lioiv altogether independent 
he is! 

Like a flash of lightning, like a spark of flint striking steel, 
each knows how to react to the situation: 

Beivare of the tiger that permits no one to touch his whisk- 

[From Yengo’s comments on this gathd I give the following 
extracts, which may shed light in understanding the whole 
procedure between Hyakujo the master and the monk:] 

A monk asked Baso Doichi (Ma-tsu Tao-i, d. 788),' “What 
is the ultimate teaching of Buddhism?” Baso struck him, say- 
ing, “If I did not strike you, the whole world would laugh at 

Another monk asked, "What is the meaning of Bodhidharma 
coming from the West ?” Baso said, “You come up nearer to 
me and I’ll tell you.” When the monk approached him, the 
master slapped the monk’s ear, saying, “The secrets are difficult 
to guard!” 

Yengo further quotes Ganto Zenkatsu (Yen-t’ou Ch’iian-huo, 
828—889), who once said this: “The best is to reject objects, 
while to run after them is the worst.” When one finds oneself 
engaged in a combat, one is to be always master of the situation, 
whatever way it may turn. Says Seccho: “The wheel of 

' Ma-tsu. or Baso as he is generally called in Japan, is one who helped 
Zen to develop along a new line in the historj' of Buddhism in China. He had 
many disciiilcs, and Hyakujo. who is the master in the story cited here, was 
one of the most prominent. Yengo brings in Baso in order to illustrate Hyakujo's 
masterful treatment of the monk. 

'' This amounts to asking the ultimate teaching of Buddhism. Bodhidharma 
is the first Zen patriarch of China, who brought Buddhism from India. 







becoming ever remains unmoved. Once moved, however, it surely 
runs in two directions [subject and object].” Indeed, if it did 
not move at all, it would be of no use whatever. If one is 
really of manly stature, one ought to detect where the slightest 
movement takes place, for this is the way to be one’s own 
master. People of the present day are altogether too busy running 
after somebody else. When they go on like this, their noses 
will be firmly held by others, and how can they expect to attain 
their end? The monk knew well even in the midst of a 
lightning flash how to turn himself about and make a bow to 
the master. Seccho here compares Hyakujd to a fierce tiger and 
says that the monk’s parry was like trying to play with the 
tiger’s beard — an altogether dangerous trick. 


TO THOSE who have not been initiated into the secrets of the 
Zen way of dealing with these religio-philosophical problems, 
the above mondo and comments will be complete enigmas, I 
believe. But one thing, at least, they will notice here is that 
Zen does not follow the ordinary rules of ratiocination; Zen has 
another way of viewing and judging realities. We may ask, 
‘'Why is not Zen more explicit in demonstrating this particular 
point instead of shrouding it. as it appears to some of us, 
with unnecessary ‘mysteries’?” The answer will be: It is not 
that Zen purposely practices this mystihcation, so to speak, but 
in the nature of things there is no other way of demonstrating 
Zen than the one adopted by the successive masters in China 
and Japan. If they, like philosophers, followed the logical or 
dialectical method so called, there would be no Zen; in fact, 
the masters are doing their best to express themselves in the most 
vital and most pertinent manner they can possibly follow. To 
say that their behavior is inevitable is more to the point. When 
the fruit ripens it falls on the ground. When life is ready, it 



takes another form than the one it has so far been assuming. 
When spring comes, the field is green and we feel relaxed; 
when frost covers it, we shiver and see the trees all shorn of 
leaves. It is not that we have logic first and apply it to nature 
to make the latter obey its laws. Logic is a later product, and 
it is we who have constructed it. Where logic is not available, 
we must construct another which is “logical.” Zen is prior to 
logic so called, and its masters are guiding us to an interview 
with a God who has not yet uttered “Let there be light.” 

To take up the first mondo, regarding the fate of “this” 
when the whole universe goes to destruction, one master says 
that “that” follows the fate of the rest — which we may take to 
mean that the soul distinguishable from the body disappears with 
the disappearance of the latter. But there is another master who 
apparently contradicts this assertion, for he says that the soul 
does not follow the destiny of the body. His second statement 
when asked “^liy?” is: “The soul is the body and the body is 
the soul, and as they are identical there is no destruction of 
either.” Or one may understand this master's view in the follow- 
ing way: It is a mistake from the start to distinguisli soul from 
body, mind from world, thinker from thought, seer from seen, 
actor from action, subject from object, meiim from luum, en-soi 
from pour-soi, as is generally done by most philosophers as well 
as by men in the street; and because of this initial error we 
become involved in an endless series of logical difficulties. The 
best way to come to a real understanding of the matter is 
“not to ask a question,” for this is where Zen is. Let the 
question be raised: “Is ‘this’ destroyed?” or “Is ‘this’ not 
destroyed?” and then we have an endless series of complica- 
tions. If it is said that “this” is destroyed, we get worried 
over the destiny of our precious “soul” or anything which we 
hold to be dear to us. If it is said, on the other hand, that 
“this” is not destroyed, we worry just the same over its “where- 
fore,” or its “whereabouts.” or its “whither.” 

The second mondo cuts off all these logical complications 

r k 




and physical worries, for Hyakujo is in the most positive man- 
ner affirmative and conclusive; “I sit here all by myself!” 

The philosopher according to whom cogito ergo sum is gener- 
ally weak-minded. The Zen master has nothing to do with such 
dialectical quibbles, he straightaway gives his final irrevocable 
pronunciamento: “I sit here all by myself!” He does not 
‘‘think”; he is, in fact, where the thinking has not yet started. 
If he begins to do it, he is too late. Therefore, he goes 
straight to “I am,” or just ‘"am” or ‘"is.” The Zen master is a 
most impatient man; he will not wait for us to ask a question, 
for he says; “If you want to be intimate [with Reality] no 
questions need be asked, for the answer is where they have 
not yet been raised.” “A flash of lightning” or “the spark of 
flint striking steel” does not necessarily mean instantaneity but 
im-mediacy. When you ask a question or when you think at all, 
this means mediation or time. Zen abhors mediation of any kind, 
it is always straightforward and wants to handle Reality in its 
nakedness or in its isness or suchness. Questioning and an- 
swering, or tliinking or logicizing, is mediation and therefore 
takes time, which irritates the Zen master, who is always after 
im-mediacy. He does not want a pair of tongs to grasp fire, he 
wants us to grasp it with the naked hands, and the Avonderful 
thing is that when grasped it does not burn the hands. This 
is the meaning of the saying; ‘"Whoever loses his life will 
preserve it.” 

Is this not the most miraculous event in the world? And 
that Zen takes a firm hold of this miracle and asks no questions 
about it — is this not also a most Avonderful fact in our experi- 
ence? For indeed no questions are possible here. This is not 
the conclusion Ave reach after laborious reasoning. Hyakujo gives 
us here the Avhole truth Avithout any reservation, and Ave have 
to accept it in the same spirit, wholeheartedly and unhesitatingly. 
But if Ave stopped here, there Avould not have been any Zen. 
Fortunately, if we can say so, the monk boAved and the master 



Struck. This is something we find nowhere in the cultural his- 
tory of mankind. And this is where real Zen is. 

“I sit here all by myself” may be compared to Luther’s “Here 
I stand,” or to Christ’s “I am before Abraham was,” or to 
Yahveh’s “I am that I am.” But how about the bowing in this 
connection? The bowing is by no means an unconscious thing, 
but what does it mean here as a reaction to Hyakujo’s diction? 
Zen gives no explanation, at least verbally. Besides, how should 
we have it related to the master’s striking? The bowing becomes 
a veritable enigma. 

And then the striking? Yengo parallels it with Base’s striking 
his questioners and praises Hyakujo very highly, saying that he 
is really the master of the whole situation and knows perfectly 
well how to cope with every phase of its shifting. To the out- 
siders, all this is beyond comprehension. What religion is this? 
What philosophy is this, if there is anything intelligible in it? I 
would not, however, go any further here except to state that Zen 
is the most intimate personal experience and that all these 
enigmatical behaviors are directly and inevitably related to it. 






THE V imalahlrti Sutra, one of the most remarkable Mahayana 
texts, was produced in India probably around the beginning 
of the Christian era. It is remarkable that it bears the title "sutra” 
in spite of the fact that it was given by a Buddbist philosopher 
and not by the Buddha himself, though the story is concerned 
with an incident in the life of the Buddha. It is in fact a 
philosophic-dramatic discourse in which the Mahayana doctrines 
are presented in the way characteristic of the Hindu psychology 
in contrast to the Chinese. To those who are accustomed to the 
Zen way of demonstrating Reality, the sulra will certainly appear 
too circumlocutory and highly supernatural. But the stage on 
which the whole drama is enacted is fantastically grand and full 
of marvelous episodes which go altogether beyond the Chinese 
imagination, which paints things of Heaven in drab, colorless 
earthliness, while the Indians would transform our mundane 
everyday life into a glorious Elysian field. However this may be, 
there are many routes to the peak, as there are many mansions 
in “my Father’s house.” 

The sutra is called in Japanese the Yuima Kyo, and it was 
one of the first three Mahayana texts studied and commented 
61] upon by Prince Shotoku (574-622) early in the seventh century. 
That Buddhism came to Japan to stay and molded the character 
of her people in more ways than one was due to this Prince, 
who is justly regarded by the Buddhists as the father of Japa- 
nese Buddhism. He was great not only as a pious Buddhist 



student but also as a statesman, educator, architect, social worker, 
and promoter of various branches of art. The Horyuji at Nara 
is the monument immortalizing his memory. One of the ways to 
approach Zen philosophy will then be to get acquainted with 
the contents of the Yuima Kyo. 

The Yuima Kyo was translated first by Kumarajiva, who came 
to China in A.D. 401. Owing to its deep philosophical and 
religious insight and also probably to its dramatic setting and 
fine literary quality, the sutra has wielded great spiritual and 
intellectual influence not only in Japan but in China. The knowl- 
edge of its teaching will surely facilitate our understanding of 
Buddhism. It is not exactly known when this sutra was com- 
piled in India. This much we can say, that the compilation took 
place prior to Nagarjuna, that is, some time at the beginning 
of the Christian era. The principal figure of the sutra is Yuima, 
who is described as a wealthy householder of Vaisali in the time 
of the Buddha. He was thoroughly versed in Mahayana philos- 
ophy; he was a great philanthropist and an astute Buddhist 
philosopher. Although living in the world as a layman, his im- 
maculate conduct elicited universal admiration. One time he was 
seen indisposed. This was one of his hoben, “skillful means” or 
“mysterious ways” {updyakausalya) , whereby he wanted to 
teach his people regarding the transitoriness of life. The whole 
town of Vaisali, including the great lords. Brahmans, officials, 
and other classes of people, hastened to visit him, anxiously 
inquiring after his health. 

The Buddha, learning of this, wanted to send one of his 
disciples to Yuima. But they all refused to comply with the 
Buddha’s w'ish, excusing themselves on the ground that none of 
them was equal to the task of interviewing the great 
Mahayana philosopher-saint. They had all had at least one experi- 
ence previously with him, in which they w'ere miserably worsted 
and had failed to carry on their line of argument against his. 
It may be interesting to cite one or two examples of such religio- 
philosophical interviews between Yuima and the disciples of 


Buddha, for herein we can see what kind of discourse Yuima 
advances to defeat the Hinayana followers of Buddha. 

The great Kasyapa was once going around begging for his 
food among the poor. Yuima came to him and said. “You 
need not purposely avoid the rich. When you go out begging, 
your mind must be entirely detached from such discriminations, 
your heart must be filled with impartial love. Food should be 
received as if it were not received at all. To harbor the 
thought of reception is a discrimination. Rising above the ideas 
of self and not-self, of good and evil, of gain and loss, you are 
able then for the first time to make offerings to all the Buddhas 
and Bodhisattvas with one bowlful of food received from your 
donors. Unless you attain this state of spirituality, you are a 
wasteful consumer of food which you try to gather from the 
poor, thinking that they might thus be given the chance to be 

When Subhuti was asked to visit Yuima, he made this con- 
fession and e.xcused himself as not worthy of the mission: 

hen I once called at the old philosopher’s residence for my 
food, he filled my bowl with food and said: ‘Only such a one is 
worthy of this food as has no attachment to it, for to him all 
things are equal. While in the midst of all forms of worldly 
entanglements, he is emancipated; he accepts all existences as 
they are, and yet he is not attached to them. Do not listen to 
the Buddha, nor do you see him, but follow your heretical 
teachers and go wherever they go; if they are destined for hell, 
you just go with them; and when, by doing this, you feel no 
hesitancy, no reluctance, then you are permitted to take this 
food. Donors do not accumulate merit; charity is not the cause 
of bliss. Unless you are able to go in company with devils and 
work with them, you are not entitled to this food.’ When I 
heard this, I was thunderstruck and at the point of running 
away from him without the bowl. But he said: ‘All things are 
after all like phantom existences, they are but names. It is only 





the wise who without attachment go beyond logic and know 
what Reality is. They are emancipated and therefore never 
alarmed.’ This being the case, I realize that I am not the person 
to go and inquire after his health.” 

To quote one more example from many others. When the 
turn came to Maitreya, he had this to say. ‘"When I was formerly 
in the Tusita Heaven, discoursing before the Lord of Heaven 
and his followers on a life of nonretrogression, Yuima appeared 
and talked to me in this wise. ‘0 Maitreya, I understand that 
Sakyamuni the Buddha prophesied your attaining the supreme 
enlightenment in the course of one life. Now I wish to know 
what this one life really means. Is it your past, your future, or 
your present one? If it is the past one, the past is past and no 
more; if future, the future is not yet here; if present, the present 
is ‘abodeless.’ [That is to say, the present has no fixed point 
in time. When you say this is the present, it is here no longer.] 
This being the case, the so-called present life as it is lived this 
very moment by every one of us is taught by the Buddha as 
something not to be subsumed in the categories of birth, old age, 
and death. 

“ ‘According to Buddha, all beings are of suchness {tathatd), 
and are in suchness; not only all wise and holy persons but 
every one of us — of course including yourself, 0 Maitreya. If 
you are assured by Buddha of attaining the supreme enlighten- 
ment and realizing Nirvana, all beings sentient and nonsentient 
ought also to be sure of their enlightenment. For as long as we 
are all of suchness and in suchness, this suchness is one and the 
same; and rvhen one of us attains enlightenment all the rest too 
share it. And in this enlightenment there is no thought of dis- 
crimination. Where do you, 0 Maitreya, put your life of non- 
retrogression when there is really neither attainment nor non- 
attainment, neither body nor mind?’ 

“0 Blessed One, when Yuima gave this discourse in the 
Tusita Heaven, the two hundred deva-lords at once realized the 






‘ksanti in the unborn dharma.’ ^ For this reason I am not quali- 
fied to do anything with this old philosopher of Vaisall.” 

In this way one after another of Buddha’s disciples at this 
assembly refused to comply w'ith his request which was full of 
grave significance. Finally, ManjusrI accepted the mission. 
Accompanied by eight thousand Bodhisattvas, five hundred 
Sravakas, and hundreds of thousands of deva-lords, he entered 
the city of Vaisali. Yuima, knowing this, had his room emptied 
of all the furniture, leaving just one couch, on which he laid 
himself down; nor was he attended by any of his followers. Ide 
was all alone in his ten-foot-square room. 

The interview of this wily philosopher-saint and the Bodhisat- 
tva whose wisdom had no peer among Buddha’s disciples be- 
gan in this manner; 

Yuima: ‘‘0 ManjusrI, you are welcome indeed. But your com- 
ing is no-coming, and my seeing is no-seeing.” 

ManjusrI: "You are right. I come as if not coming, I depart 
as if not departing. For my coming is from nowhere, and my 
departing is no-whither. We talk of seeing each other, and yet 
there is no seeing between us two. But let us put this matter 
aside for a while, for I am here commissioned by Buddha to 
inquire after your condition. Is it improving? How did you be- 
come ill? And are you cured?” 

Yuima; “From folly there is desire, and this is the cause of 
my illness. Because all sentient beings are sick I am sick, and 
when they are cured of illness, I too shall be cured. A Bodhi- 
sattva assumes a life of birth-and-death for the sake of all 
beings; as long as there is birth-and-death, there is illness.” 

While the conversation between Yuima and ManjusrI is going 

^ Anutpattika-dharma-ksanti in Sanskrit. This is one of the key terms in 
the teaching of Mahayana Buildhism, but unfortunately it has been misunder- 
stood by some of the early translators of Sanskrit Buddhism. Ksanti does not 
here mean “patience" or “endurance"’ as it generally does. It means “ac- 
ceptance," “recognition,’’ or “acknowledgment," and the “unborn” (anutpat- 
tika) refers to Reality itself idharma), which is not subject to birth and death. 
The whole phiase, therefore, is synonymous with the supreme enlightenment 
( samya-sambodhi) . 




on in this strain there take place one or two episodes in regard 
to Sariputra, one of the most intelligent hearers {srdvaka) among 
Buddha’s followers gathered here. 

Sariputra happens to notice Yuima’s room devoid of all furni- 
ture except the couch and wonders how the host is going to seat 
all the Bodhisattvas and disciples who have come with Mah- 
jusri. Yuima, reading the mind of Sariputra, asks whether 
Sariputra is come for the sake of the Dharma or for the sake 
of the seat. Assured of his coming for the sake of the Dharma, 
Yuima tells him how to seek the Dharma. ‘"Seeking the Dharma 
consists in not seeking anything, not getting attached to any- 
thing; for when there is any seeking or attachment, from it 
grovs’s every form of hindrance, moral and intellectual, and one 
will be inextricably involved in meshes of contradictions and 
altercations. Hence no end of illness in this life.” 

Yuima learns from MahjusrI where to find the best seats as 
the latter in his spiritual pilgrimage has visited every possible 
Buddha-land in the entire chiliacosm. Yuima at once sends for 
thirty-two thousand seats from that Buddha-land. Every one of 
the seats is elaborately ornamented, high and broad, and fit 
for any august Bodhisattva to sit on. The apparently small room 
of Yuima accommodates all these seats, each of which is as high 
as Mount Sumeru. All the visitors are asked to sit. The Bodhi- 
sattvas sit easily, but the Sravakas are unable to climb up to 
the chairs, which are altogether too high for them. Realizing 
how small the room is \vhere this entire crowd is asked to sit, 
Sariputra still wonders how that can be accomplished, because 
no one mustard seed can hold in it all the mountains of the 
world, and also because no one pore of the skin {romakupa ) 
can absorb all the four oceans together with their fishes, tortoises, 
crocodiles, etc. This refers to the teaching of the Kegon Sutra 
{Gandavyuha or Avatamsaka) constituting the foundation of 
what is known as Kegon philosophy, which developed in China 
in the seventh century. 

Another incident happened to Sariputra that is illustrative of 


4i6 appendices 

the whole trend of this sutra, — I mean his encounter with a celes- 
tial maiden. She was among the assembly, listening to the grand 
discourse carried on between Yuima and MahjusrI. She made 
a shower of heavenly flowers fall over the audience. The flowers 
slipped off the bodies of all the Bodhisattvas but remained stuck 
to those of the Sravakas, among whom was Sariputra. He tried 
to brush them off, but in vain. The goddess asked him why he 
did that. 

Replied Sariputra: “This is not in accordance with the 

The goddess: “Do not say so; these flowers are free from 
discrimination. But, owing to your own discrimination, they ad- 
here to your person. Look at the Bodhisattvas. As they are en- 
tirely free from this fault, no flowers stay on them. \^Ten all 
thoughts born of discrimination are removed, even evil spirits 
are unable to take advantage of such beings.” 

Sariputra: “How long have you been in this room?” 

The goddess: “As long as the length of your own emancipa- 

After some further dialogues in this vein, Sariputra is sur- 
prised at the intelligence of this fair celestial debater, and finally 
asks her why she does not transform herself into a male figure. 
The goddess at once retorts: “1 have been for these twelve years 
seeking for the femininity of my person, but I have not suc- 
ceeded in this. Why should I then go through a transformation?” 

These dialogues are, however, side issues, and we must now 
follow the chief characters of the sutra, Yuima and Manjusri. 
Their conversation turns on the subject of nonduality, that is. 
advaitism; Yuima wants to have it defined by every one of the 
chief Bodhisattvas assembled. After each has given his own 
view, Yuima wants MahjusrI to express his. MahjusrI says: 
“As I understand it, when there is not a word to utter, not a 
sign to see, nothing to take cognizance of, and when there is 
complete detachment from every form of questioning, then one 
enters the gate of advailam (“nonduality”).” 



Manjusrl asks: “0 Yuima, what is your view now that we 
have all expressed ourselves on the subject?” Yuima remains 
silent and does not utter a word. Thereupon, Mahjusri makes 
this remark: ‘‘Well done, well done, indeed, 0 Yuima! This is 
really the way to enter the gate of advaitam, which no words, no 
letters can explain!” 

This question of advaitam constitutes the main topic of the 
Yuima Sutra, but there is another episode following this. The 
busy Sariputra thinks of the meal time approaching, wondering 
how Yuima is going to feed these Bodhisattvas and other beings 
gathered in his ten-foot-square room. Perceiving what is occupy- 
ing the mind of Sariputra, Yuima announces that supernatural 
food will presently be served to every one of the assembly. He 
enters into a meditation and by means of his divine powers he 
transverses all the worlds numbering as many as the sands of 
forty-two Ganga rivers. Reaching thus a Buddha-land called “The 
Fragrant,” Yuima asks the Buddha presiding over the land to 
let him have some of his food. The request is granted, Yuima 
comes back with his food to the assembly, and every one of 
them is sufficiently fed though the amount is exceedingly small. 
The feeding, however, does not consist in partaking of a gross 
material meal; it is an ethereal one, and to smell its fragrant 
odor is sufficient to appease whatever feeling of hunger all 
these strange beings may have. 

After this they all, including \ uima the great philosopher-saint, 
appear before the Buddha, who then tells them about the country 
from which Yuima comes. The country is called Abhirati, the 
“Land of Perfect Joy,” which is presided over by the Buddha 
Aksobhya (“Immovable”). At the Buddha’s request, Yuima 
miraculously brings the whole country of Abhirati right before 
the whole assembly. It is seen with its presiding Buddha Akso- 
bhya, Bodhisattvas, Sravakas, all classes of devas, and nagas. 
and other spiritual beings, with its mountains and rivers and 
oceans, with its plants and flowers, with its inhabitants of both 
sexes. One of the peculiar features of this Buddha-country is 



that it is provided with three sets of staircases down to this w'orld. 
The assembly is delighted with the sight and wishes to be born 
into this land of Aksobhya. The sutra concludes with the usual 
request of the Buddha for the continuance of the Dharma on this 
earth and the promise of all those who are present at the as- 
sembly to follow the Buddha’s injunctions. 



THE STUDY of the No play is really the study of Japanese 
culture generally. It contains the moral ideals, religious be- 
liefs, and artistic aspirations of the people. As it was principally 
patronized in old days by the samurai class, it is more or less 
enshrined in an austere atmosphere. The following play selected 
out of the two hundred most popular ones is of special interest 
to us. 

“Yama-uba” is one of the Buddhist plays thoroughly saturated 
with deep thought, especially of Zen. It was probably written 
by a Buddhist priest to propagate the teaching of Zen. It is often 
misinterpreted, and most No-lovers miss the real point of the play. 
Yama-uba, literally “the old woman of the mountains,” repre- 
sents the principle of love secretly moving in every one of us. 
Usually we are not conscious of it and are abusing it all the time. 
Most of us imagine that love is something beautiful to look at, 
young, delicate, and charming. But in fact she is not, for she 
works hard, unnoticed by us and yet ungrudgingly; what we 
notice is the superficial result of her labor, and we think it 
beautiful — which is natural, for the work of love ought to be 
beautiful. But love herself, like a hard-working peasant woman, 
looks rather worn out; from worrying about others her face is 
full of wrinkles, her hair is white. She has so many knotty 
problems presented for her solution. Her life is a series of pains, 
which, however, she gladly suffers. She travels from one end of 
the world to another, knowing no rest, no respite, no interruption. 




Love in this phase, that is, from the point of view of her untiring 
labor, is fitly represented as Yama-uba, the old lady of the 

The story of Yama-uba must have been current among the 
Japanese from olden days. She was not necessarily a hideous 
old woman. Although she was represented generally as old, she 
was a benevolent-hearted character and left blessings in her 
wake when she came out in the villages. She was considered to 
be wandering from mountain to mountain and caring for the 
villagers and mountain folk. The author of the play “Yama-uba” 
incorporated this idea into his work and made her an unknown 
and invisible agent behind nature and humanity. We ordinarily 
like to talk about such an agency in our philosophy, theology, 
and literature, but we do not go beyond mere talk, we hesitate 
to come before its actual presence. We are like the painter who 
used to paint the dragon, but who lost his consciousness, as he 
was frightened in the extreme, when the dragon itself appeared 
to him in order to let him paint the mythical creature more 
faithfully to the reality. We sing of Yama-uba, but when she 
makes her personal apjiearance and lets us see the inner side of 
her life, we are at a loss and know not what to do with ourselves. 
If we want, therefore, to dig deeply into the remotest recesses of 
our consciousness as Zen would advise, we ought not to shrink 
from taking hold of actualities with our own hands. 

\'i4th this preliminary remark, the play “Yama-uba,” the in- 
tention of which has been grossly misrepresented both by foreign 
writers and the Japanese, will become intelligible. The No plays 
are difficult to translate, perhaps impossible to translate, and I 
have no ambition to attempt the impossible. The following is a 
bare outline of the play sliorn of all those literary embellishments 
with which it is most gorgeously furnished. 

There was a dancer in the capital known as Hyakuma Yama- 
uba because she sang and danced the song of Yama-uba so beau- 
tifully that people called her by that name. She once con- 



‘ Y A M A - U B A , ' A NO PLAY 


ceived the idea of visiting the Zenkoji temple in the province of 
Shinano; and, accompanied by her attendant, she started on 
her long and fatiguing journey over the mountains of northern 
Japan. The play describes this journey in its usual entertaining 
style, peculiar to the literature of that period; they at last came 
to the river Sakai separating Ecchu and Echigo. 

Attendant: “We are at last at the boundary line between Ecchu 
and Echigo. Let us rest here for a while and make inquiries 
about our further traveling.” 

Dancer: “We are always told of the Western Land of Purity 
which lies beyond thousands of millions of Buddha-lands, but 
we are now on the way straight to the temple of Amida. where 
at our last moment on earth he comes to greet us. Let us 
walk on foot, leaving our vehicles here, over the mountain pass 
of Agero. for more merit accrues from walking; we are on our 
disciplinary tour.” 

Attendant: “How strange! When it is not yet the time, it is 
already beginning to be dark. What shall we do?” 

While they were thus worried, there appeared a woman who 
said to them: “0 travelers, let me give you a lodging, for you 
are now on the pass of Agero far away from human habitation, 
and the evening is fast approaching. Pass the night with me in my 
humble hut.” 

They were more than pleased to accept this proposal. When 
they were settled, the stranger-woman made another proposi- 
tion: she wanted to hear the singer sing the song of “Yama-uba.” 
This was her long-cherished ambition, and it was lor this special 
purpose that she caused the day to hasten its steps toward the 
night so that her hermitage might be opened to the wayfarers. 
The latter were mystified, for they did not know how the hostess 
so correctly surmised their identity. 

Woman: “It is no use — this trying to conceal your identity. 
The one opposite me is no other personage tlian Hyakuma Yama- 
uba herself, whose fame is just now filling the entire capital. 
The song treats of Yama-uba going about from mountain to 
mountain. Let me then listen to its wonderful melody. Although 



you sing of Yama-uba, you may not know who she actually is. 
You may think she is a kind of evil spirit living in the mountains. 
Whether she is a spirit or a human being, it matters not. If by 
’Yama-uba’ is meant an old woman living in the mountains, it 
is no other than this self. You sing of her and if you are really 
tenderly thinking of her. why not once perform a Buddhist service 
and offer prayers for her enlightenment and emancipation? Let 
once your song and dance be dedicated to the Buddha — from 
whom all kinds of virtues flow. I have been wishing to see you 
for this reason.” 

Dancer: “Wonderful indeed is this! You are really ‘Yama-uba’ 

Woman: ‘‘The sole intent of my appearance here after going 
about ever so many mountains was to hear with my own ears 
all the virtues belonging to my name. Sing for me, 0 my dancer- 
friend, your ‘Yama-uba’ song.” 

The dancer from the capital now agreed, to please the hostess, 
and when she was about to start her singing and dancing the 
strange woman announced that she would reveal her original 
form and join the singing all night through. She then disappeared. 
( Let me note here that we, especially philosophers and intel- 
lectualists. like to play with ideas and not realities; and when 
realities present themselves we are horrified, or we try to make 
them follow the pattern of ideas. This is right to a certain extent, 
for we are all incorrigible idealists in spite of the hue and cry 
of realism. But we ought not to forget that there is something 
which refuses to be subsumed under either category, idealism 
or realism, and this something we are to see face to face in order 
to get to the very foundation of our life.) 


vv H I L E the dancer and her attendant are beginning to prepare 
for their performance in accordance with the earnest request of 


‘yama-uba,’ a no play 


the “Old Woman of the Mountains,” they hear the latter’s mono- 
logue which runs in substance as follows: 

“How deep the valley! how bottomless the abyss! Here I see 
people suffering from their evil karma of the past, here I see 
people rejoicing in their good karma of the past. Good and evil 
are, however, only relative, they come from one source. What 
is there really deserving grief or joy? Look far out into the 
realm of transcendental wisdom, and there we behold a world 
of particulars extending before our eyes, nothing is hidden from 
us. The rivers flow meanderingly through the valleys, the rocks 
stand against surging waves on the ocean. Who cut those dark- 
purple ridges towering over there? Who dyed these emerald-blue 
waters sparkling in the sun?” 

The Old Lady now appears before them in her natural features 
from behind the thickly-growing woodland. They are almost 
frightened. Her voice is human, her hair is silvery white, her 
eyes shine like a pair of bright stars, and her face is reddish, 
reminding one of tiles used for roofing. She, however, assures 
them of the uselessness of their apprehension, for her idea of 
displaying herself is to let them know what kind of work she is 
doing behind life, wliich we see only in its superficialities, and 
also to let them perceive the outward results of her spiritual 
strenuousness, which are symbolized in her features. Now follows 
a kind of prologue to the song of “Yama-uba,” which is sung by 
both Yama-uba herself and the dancer from the capital. In fact, 
it is hard to distinguish between Yama-uba’s singing of herself 
and the dancer’s song of her. They are intermingled, the idea 
being to sing out the part played by the “Old Woman of the 
Mountains” in the world drama which is being enacted daily be- 
fore the eyes of all humanity. 

The song begins wdth a reference to this rare occasion which 
effected the meeting of the dancer and the Old Lady, of imagina- 
tion and reality, of play and life. 

“The poet has fine words for the spring evening wTen the 
flowers are in bloom and the moon is full, saying that one moment 



of this is worth one thousand pieces of gold. The meeting, indeed, 
with Hyakuma Yama-uba is worth more than that. Let us then 
sing together of this unprecedented event as if our words could 
really convey all that is meant by it. 

“Let us sing like birds flapping wings, let us beat the drum 
like the waterfall, let us turn over our sleeves like the flowers 
of snowflakes fluttering in the breeze. Every sound, every move- 
ment issues from the Dharma. Even Yama-uha’s wanderings 
from mountain to mountain, however toilsome and full of wor- 
ries — they are rooted in the Dharma.” 

This leads to the description of Yama-uba’s habitat symbolized 
as the mountain by the ocean. 

“The mountain is originally the accumulation of particles of 
dust, but when it grows ever higher and higher even to a height 
of many thousands of feet, its peak is lost in the clouds. The ocean 
is nothing but the amassing of dewdrops on the moss, but when 
the amassing is repeated infinitely, we have a boundless expanse 
of water with swelling waves. When they beat against the rocks, 
all the valleys and all the hollows reverberate with thundering 
sounds; the empty grottoes are filled with echoes which die away 
into the vacuity of space. 

“This is where I have my retreat, surrounded by the high peaks 
and looking down into the deep valleys, while an immense sheet 
of water is seen far beyond the wavy mountains. When the moon 
of Suchness {tathatd) rises from the other end of the horizon, 
its shadow is cast on the infinitely undulating waves now shining 
silver. When a breeze passes through the forests behind my re- 
treat, the heavy rustling is enough to awaken the world from 
its dream of phantoms. In the middle of all this — with the serene 
moonlight before me and listening to the murmuring of the trees 
behind — I am as if sitting all alone in an ancient court where no 
wrangling noises are heard, no beating of the criminals takes 

“When sitting alone in the mountains farthest removed from 
human turmoil, I often listen to a solitary bird sing or to a 

‘yama-uba,’ a no play 


venturesome woodcutter and realize the absolute quietness which 
surrounds me. When I look up to the highest peak of the Dharma- 
nature, I think of our never-ending quest for the sublimest truth; 
when I look down to the unfathomability of the gaping valley be- 
low, I am reminded of the depths of Ignorance {avidya) where 
all beings are sinking, and I realize the inexhaustibleness of my 

“You may ask whence I come, but really there is no whence 
of my coming, nor have I any fixed abode of my own. I move 
with the clouds from mountain to mountain impressing my 
footsteps ever in the remotest parts of the earth. I do not belong 
to the human world, but live with it in my transformation-bodies 
{nirmanakdya) } I am presented here in the form of a mountain 
woman according to my will-karma. When seen from the point 
of view of absolute identity, good and evil are mere forms of 
relativity, and ‘Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form’ 

^ In Mahayana Buddhism, the Buddha is considered as having a triple body 
( trikdya) : 

Q) Dharmakdya, “The Dharma body,” which corresponds to the Christian 
Godhead, that is, the Buddha in his suchness, in his isness, in the state of 
identity with the Dharma (the truth). 

(2) Sambhogakdya, which literally means “the enjoyment body.” When 
the Buddha was still in the stage of bodhisattvaship, he performed all sorts 
of meritorious deeds and went through all manner of self-mortification, and as 
the result, he came to assume a form of existence altogether different from us 
ordinary mortals. This is in accordance with the moral law of karmic causation, 
which requires that whatever deed one may commit, good or bad, one is sure 
to reap or enjoy its fruit. 

(3) N irmdnakdya, meaning “the body of transformation.” The essence of 
Buddhahood is double: prajna and karund, which we may take as somewhat 
corresponding to the Christian idea of wisdom and love. The Buddha's karund 
for all beings is so great, so intense, that he contrives ever)- possible means 
iupdya) whereby to bring them to a state of enlightenment and happiness. If a 
man is at all savable, the Buddha will assume any form of bodily existence 
(kdya) — as a human being, as an animal, as a devil — and, approaching his 
objective antagonistically or in a friendly way as he thinks most effective for 
the particular situation, he will not stop his work until his aim is attained. 
This phase of the Buddha’s activity is called his nirmdnakdya. “transformation 
body.” When Buddhists pronounce your deadly enemy to be your savior, they 
refer to this conception of the Buddha’s karund spirit, capable of taking any 
form to accomplish his purpose. The Y’ama-uba thus may be regarded as the 
Buddha in one of his transformation bodies. 





( rupam eva sunyatd sunyata eva rupam ) The holy doctrines 
of the Buddha are mingled in things of the world; Enlighten- 
ment ( bodhi) is to be sought in the midst of passions and desires; 
where the Buddha is there are beings, and where beings are 
Yama-uba also has her existence. The willows with their fresh 
green leaves and the flowers in their variety of colors greet the 
spring. This is the way of the world and of the Dharma. 

“When I am in the world and with the world, I sometimes 
help the villagers coming up to the mountain woods to gather 
kindling; heavily loaded, they enjoy a few minutes’ respite in 
the shade of the flowering trees, and I, sharing their burdens, 
walk with them in the moonlight and see them off to the villages 
where they will have a peaceful night after the day’s labor. I 
sometimes make myself useful to the weavers although they are 
altogether ignorant of it; when they set up their looms by the 
windows and begin to be busy with the shuttle, the nightingales 
are heard chirping outside to the melody of the wheels and 
pedals: the work goes on smoothly as if all by itself, without 
anybody superintending or lending invisible hands. T^’hen the 
frost begins to transform the surface of the earth late in autumn, 
housewives think of warmer garments for the rapid approach of 
the colder season, and from every house in the village may be 
heard the sound of the fulling of cloth or silk in the pale moon- 
light. They never suspect that Yama-uba’s hand is moving with 
every beat of theirs. 

“When you go back to the capital, you may sing of the role 
Yama-uba plays in all these things. But even so, to express my 
wish is a kind of attachment on my part. Whatever you may say 
about it, it is mine any way forever to wander about from moun- 
tain to mountain, however tiresome the work may be. 

“Even to share the shade of one tree, or to draw water from 
the same river is due to one's past karma; how much more so in 
our case! It is no mere coincidence that you have gained your 
reputation from singing of me. All sounds, even the singing of 
subjects trivial and frivolous, are finally conducive to the en- 


‘yama-uba,’ a no play 


hancement of the Buddha-virtues. Fare thee well, 0 dancer from 
the capital, the time is come for us to part, fare thee well.” 

With this, Yama-uba takes leave of Hyakuma and her attend- 
ant. In the meantime they hear at a distance the mountain song 
of Yama-uba, who has vanished from their sight to nowhere any- 
body knows: ‘’Good-by, good-by, I am going back to my moun- 
tains: seeking in spring for the trees heavily loaded with flowers, 
I roam from mountain to mountain; in autumn I wander in the 
moonlight as I try to find where best to enjoy its glorious sight; 
in winter I drift along with the snow swathing all the mountains 
in white. Forever to transmigrate is my destiny; it is my attach- 
ment to all beings that has at last taken the form of Yama-uba 
here for a while, becoming the subject of your art.” 

Behold, she tvas here a while ago; 

Now she is no more to be seen anywhere; 

She flies over the mountains, 

Her voice echoes through the valleys; 

Forever from mountain to mountain, uandering, tvandering. 

She has vanished to the land of Nowhere. 





THERE was once a swordsman called Shoken. who was very 
much annoyed by a furious rat in his house. The rat was bold 
enough to come out of its hiding place even in the daytime, doing 
all kinds of mischief. Shoken made his pet cat go after it, but 
she was not its equal, and being bitten by it, she ran away scream- 
ing. The swordsman now hired some of the neighboring cats 
noted for their skill and courage in catching rats. They were 
let loose against the rat. Crouching in a corner, it watched the 
cats approach it and furiously attacked them one after another. 
The cats were terrified and all beat a retreat. 

The master became desperate and tried to kill the rat himself. 
Taking up his wooden sword he approached it, but every effort of 
the experienced swordsman proved ineffectual, for the rat dodged 
his sword so skillfully that it seemed to be flying through the air 
like a bird or even lightning. Before Shoken could follow its 
movement, it had already made a successful leap at his head. He 
was perspiring heavily and finally decided to give up the chase. 

As a last resort, he sent for the neighboring Cat widely known 
for her mysterious virtue as the most able rat-catcher. The Cat 
did not look in any way especially different from other cats that 
had been invited to fight the rat. The swordsman did not think 
very much of her, but let her go into the room where the rat was 
located. The Cat went in quietly and slowly as if she were not 

^ From an old bottk on swordplay, probably written by an early master of the 
Ittory'U school, which was founded by ltd Kagehisa in the seventeenth century'. 




cognizant of any unusual scene in the room. The rat, however, 
was extremely terrified at the sight of the approaching object 
and stayed motionless, almost stupefied, in the corner. The Cat 
almost nonchalantly went for the rat and came out carrying it 
by the neck. 

In the evening, all the cats who had participated in the rat- 
catching had a grand session at Shoken’s house, and respectfully 
asked the great Cat to take the seat of honor. They made pro- 
found bows before her and said; ‘’We are all noted for valor 
and cunning, but never realized that there was such an extraor- 
dinary rat in the world. None of us was able to do anything with 
it until you came; and how easily you carried the day! We all 
wish you to divulge your secrets for our benefit, but before that 
let us see how much we all know about the art of fighting rats.” 

The black cat came forward and said: “I was born in a family 
reputed for its skill in the art. Since my kitten days I have trained 
myself with a view' to becoming a great rat-catcher. I am able 
to leap over a screen as high as seven feet; I know how to squeeze 
myself through a tiny hole which allows a rat only. I am proficient 
in performing all kinds of acrobatics. I am also clever at making 
the rats think that I am sound asleep, but I know how to strike 
at them as soon as they come within my reach. Even those 
running over the beam cannot escape me. It is really a shame 
that I had to retreat before that old rat today.” 

The great veteran Cat said: ”WIiat you have learned is the 
technique of the art. Your mind is ever conscious of planning 
how to combat the opponent. The reason why the ancient masters 
devised the technique is to acquaint us with the proper method 
of accomplishing the work, and the method is naturally simple 
and effective, implying all the essential points of the art. Those 
who follow the master fail to grasp his principle and are too 
busily occupied with improving their technical cleverness and 
manipulatory skill. The end is achieved, and cleverness attains 
its highest efficiency, but what does it all amount to? Cleverness 
is an activity of the mind, no doubt, but it must be in accordance 





with the Way. When the latter is neglected and mere cleverness 
is aimed at, it diverges and is apt to be abused. This is to be 
remembered well in the art of fighting.” 

The tiger cat now stepped forward and expressed his view 
thus; ‘‘To my mind, what is important in the art of fighting is 
the spirit (ki; ch’i in Chinese); I have long trained myself 
in its cultivation and development. I am now in possession of the 
strongest spirit, which fills up heaven and earth. When I face 
an opponent, my overawing spirit is already on him. and victory 
is on my side even prior to actual combat. I have no conscious 
scheme as to the use of technical skill, but it comes out spon- 
taneously according to change of situation. If a rat should be 
running over a beam, I would just gaze at him intensely with all 
my spiritual strength, and he is sure to fall by himself from the 
height and be my prisoner. But that old mysterious rat moved 
along without leaving any shadow. The reason is beyond me.” 

The grand old Cat’s reply was this: ‘‘You know how to make 
the most of your psychic powers, but the very fact of your being 
conscious of it works against you; your strong psyche stands 
opposed to the opponent’s, and you can never be sure of yours 
being stronger than his, for there is always a possibility of its 
being surpassed. You may feel as if your active vigorous psyche 
were filling the universe, but it is not the spirit itself, it is no 
more than its shadowy image. It may resemble Mencius’ Kozen 
no ki (hao-jan chi ch’i), but in reality it is not. Mencius’ ch’i 
(“spirit”), as we know, is bright and illuminating, and for this 
reason full of vigor, whereas yours gains vigor owing to condi- 
tions. Because of this difference in origin, there is a difference in 
its operation. The one is a great river incessantly flowing, and 
the other is a temporary flood after a heavy rainfall, soon ex- 
hausted when it encounters a mightier onrush. A desperate rat 
often proves stronger than an attacking cat. It has been cornered, 
the fight is for life and death, and the desperate victim harbors 
no desire to escape unhurt. Its mental attitude defies every pos- 
sible danger which may come upon it. Its whole being incarnates 





the fighting ch’i (“spirit” or “psyche”), and no cats can with- 
stand its steel-like resistance.” 

The gray cat now advanced quietly and said: “As you tell us, 
a psyche however strong is always accompanied by its shadow, 
and the enemy is sure to take advantage of this shadow, though 
it may be the faintest one. I have for a long time disciplined 
myself in this way: not to overawe the enemy, not to force a 
fight, but to assume a yielding and conciliatory attitude. When 
the enemy proves strong. I just look yielding and simply follow 
up his movements. I act like a curtain surrendering itself to the 
pressure of a stone thrown at it. Even a strong rat finds no means 
to fight me. But the one we had to deal with today has no paral- 
lel, it refused to submit to my psychical overpowering, and was 
not tempted by my manifestation of a yielding psyche. It was a 
most mysterious creature — the like of which I have never seen 
in my life.” 

The grand old Cat answered: “What you call a yielding psyche 
is not in harmony with Nature; it is man-made, it is a contrivance 
worked out in your conscious mind. When you try by means of 
this to crush the opponent’s positive impassioned attacking 
psyche, he is quick enough to detect any sign of psychic waver- 
ing which may go on in your mind. The yielding psyche thus 
artificially evoked produces a certain degree of muddiness and 
obstruction in your mind, which is sure to interfere with acute- 
ness of perception and agility of action, for then Nature feels im- 
peded in pursuing its original and spontaneous course of move- 
ment. To make Nature display its mysterious way of achieving 
things is to do away wdth all your owm thinking, contriving, and 
acting; let Nature have her own way, let her act as it feels in 
you, and there will be no shadows, no signs, no traces whereby 
you can be caught; you have then no foes who can successfully 
resist you. 

“I am not, however, going to say that all the discipline you 
have each so far gone through has been to no purpose. After all, 
the Way expresses itself through its vessels. Technical contriv- 




ances hold the Reason {ri, li) in them, the spiritual power is 
operative in the hody, and when it is in harmony with Nature, it 
acts in perfect accord with environmental changes. When the 
yielding psyche is thus upheld, it gives a stop to fighting on the 
physical plane of force and is ahle to stand even against rocks. 
But there is one most essential consideration which when neg- 
lected is sure to upset everything. This is: not to cherish even a 
speck of self-conscious thought. When this is present in your 
mind, all your acts become self-willed, human-designed tricks, 
and are not in conformity with the Way. It is then that people 
refuse to yield to your approach and come to set up a psyche of 
antagonism on their part. When you are in the state of mind 
known as “mindlessness’ i mushin), you act in unison with Nature 
without resorting at all to artificial contrivances. The Way, how- 
ever, is above all limitations, and all this talk of mine is far from 
being exhaustive as far as the Way is concerned, 

“Some time ago there was in my neighborhood a cat who 
passed all her time in sleeping, showing no sign of spiritual- 
animal power, and looking like a wooden image. People never 
saw her catch a single rat, but wherever she roamed about no 
rats ever dared to appear in her presence. I once visited her 
and asked for the reason. She gave no answer. I repeated my 
query four times, but she remained silent. It was not that she 
was unwilling to answer, but in truth she did not know how to 
answer. So we note that one who knows speaks not a word, 
while one who speaks knows not. That old cat was forgetful not 
only of herself but all things about her, she was in the highest 
spiritual state of purposelessness. She was the one who realized 
divine warriorship and killed not. I am not to be compared to 

Continued the Cat: “Well, I am a mere cat; rats are my food, 
and how can I know about human affairs? But if you permit 
me to say something further, you must remember that swords- 
manship is an art of realizing at a critical moment the Reason of 
life and death, it is not meant just to defeat your opponent. A 




samurai ought to be always mindful of this fact and discipline 
himself in a spiritual culture as well as in the technique of swords- 
manship. First of all, therefore, he is to have an insight into the 
Reason of life and death, when his mind is free from thoughts of 
selfishness. This being attained, he cherishes no doubts, no 
distracting thoughts; he is not calculating, nor does he deliberate; 
his Spirit is even and yielding and at peace with the surround- 
ings; he is serene and empty-minded; and thus he is able to 
respond freely to changes taking place from moment to moment 
in his environment. On the other hand, when a thought or desire 
is stirred in his mind, it calls up a world of form; there is T,’ 
there is ‘not-I,’ and contradictions ensue. As long as this opposi- 
tion continues, the Way finds itself restricted and blocked; its 
free activities become impossible. Your Spirit is already pushed 
into the darkness of death, altogether losing its mysterious native 
brightness. How can you expect in this state of mind to rise 
and wager your fate against the opponent? Even when you come 
out victorious, it is no more than accidental, and decidedly against 
the spirit of swordsmanship. 

“By ‘purposelessness’ is not meant mere absence of things 
where vacant nothingness prevails. The Spirit is by nature form- 
less, and no ‘objects’ are to be harbored in it. When anything 
is harbored there, your psychic energy is drawn toward it; and 
when your psychic energy loses its balance, its native activity 
becomes cramped and no more flows with the stream. Where the 
energy is tipped, there is too much of it in one direction, while 
in another there is a shortage. Where it is too much, it overflows 
and cannot be controlled; where there is a shortage, it is not 
sufficiently nourished and shrivels up. In both cases, it is unable 
to cope with ever-changing situations. But when there prevails 
a state of ‘purposelessness’ [which is also a state of ‘mindless- 
ness’] the Spirit harbors nothing in it, nor is it tipped in any 
one direction; it transcends both subject and object; it responds 
empty-mindedly to environmental vicissitudes and leaves no 
tracks. We have in the Book of Changes (/ Ching): ‘There is 



in it no thinking, no doing [or no willing], absolute quietness, 
and no motion; but it feels, and when it acts, it flows through 
any objects and events of the world.’ When this is understood 
in connection with the art of swordsmanship, one is nearer to 
the Way.” 

After listening intently to the wisdom of the Cat, Shoken pro- 
posed this question: “What is meant by ‘There is neither the 
subject nor the object’?” 

Replied the Cat: “Because of the self there is the foe; when 
there is no self there is no foe. The foe means an opposition as 
the male is opposed to the female and fire to water. Whatever 
things have form exist necessarily in opposition. When there 
are no signs [of thought movement] stirred in your mind, no 
conflicts of opposition take place there; and when there are no 
conflicts, one trying to get the better of the other, this is known 
as ‘neither foe nor self.’ When, further, the mind itself is for- 
gotten together with signs [of thought movement], you enjoy a 
state of absolutely-doing-nothingness, you are in a state of per- 
fectly quiet passivity, you are in harmony with the world, you 
are one with it. bile the foe-form ceases to exist, you are not 
conscious of it, nor can it be said that you are altogether un- 
conscious of it. Tour mind is cleansed of all thought movements, 
and you act only when there is a prompting [from the Uncon- 
scious] . 

‘ ^ hen your mind is thus in a state of absolutely-doing-noth- 
ingness, the world is identified with your self, which means that 
you make no choice between right and wrong, like and dislike, 
and are above all forms of abstraction. Such conditions as pleas- 
ure and pain, gain and loss, are creations of your own mind. 
The whole universe is indeed not to be sought after outside the 
Mind. An old poet sings: ’^dien there is a particle of dust in 
your eye. the triple world becomes a narrow path; have your 
mind completely free from objects— and how much this life ex- 
pands! hen even a tiny particle of sand gets into the eye, we 
cannot keep it open: the eye may be likened to the Mind which 





by nature is brightly’ illuminating and free from objects; but as 
soon as an object enters there its virtue is lost. It is said again 
that ‘when one is surrounded by an enemy — hundreds of thou- 
sands in strength — this form [known as my Self] may be crushed 
to pieces, but the Mind is mine with which no overwhelming 
army can have anything to do.’ Says Confucius; ‘Even a plain 
man of the street cannot be deprived of his w ill.’ When how ever 
this mind is confused, it turns to be its own enemy. This is all I 
can explain here, for the master's task cannot go beyond trans- 
mitting technique and illustrating the reason for it. It is yourself 
who realizes the truth of it. The truth is self-attained, it is trans- 
mitted from mind to mind, it is a special transmission outside 
the scriptural teaching. There is here no willful deviation from 
traditional teaching, for even the master is powerless in this 
respect. Nor is this confined to the study of Zen. From the mind- 
training initiated by the ancient sages down to various branches 
of art, self-realization is the keynote of them all, and it is trans- 
mitted from mind to mind — a special transmission outside the 
scriptural teaching. What is performed by scriptural teaching is 
to point out for you what you have within yourself. There is no 
transference of secrets from master to disciple. Teaching is not 
difficult, listening is not difficult either, but what is truly difficult 
is to become conscious of what you have in yourself and be 
able to use it as your own. This self-realization is known as 'see- 
ing into one’s ow n being,’ which is salori. Satori is an aw akening 
from a dream. Awakening and self-realization and seeing into 
one’s owm being — these are synonymous. ’ 





i. The Meaning of Life 

LIEH-TZU asked Kwan-yin: “The perfect man walks through 
rocks and finds no obstructions; he steps on fire and is not 
burnt; he moves over the ten thousand things and is not afraid. 
I beg you to explain how this is possible.” 

Kwan-yin said; “This is due to the concentration of Pure 
Spirit ( ch’un ch’i ) , not at all dependent on intellectual craftiness 
or on sheer physical daring. Sit down, and I will tell you. What- 
ever things have form or shape, sound or color, are in the 
order of physical objects. They condition one another and are 
incapable of going beyond themselves, for they are mere mat- 
ter. But there is something which has no form and rises up even 
to the level of the uncreated. He who reaches this ultimate is 
beyond the materiality of all things. 

“Such a one is never intemperate, hides himself in the system 
of the unlimited, and abides where the ten thousand things start 
and end. His nature is unified, his spirit {ch’i) is nourished, his 
virtues are harmonized. He thus is in communion with the Crea- 
tive Source of things. He who is like this holds his heaven well 
integrated and his soul (shen) well consolidated. How could 
external objects enter here? 

“When a drunkard falls from the cart, he may get hurt but 
not fatally. His bones and joints are like those of anybody else, 

^ I have translated all of the following from the Chuang-tzii. Ch. XIX, with 
the exception of the last section on Lieh-tzu's archer)-, which is from Ch. XXI. 



C H U A N G - T Z U 


but the way he sustains injuries is different. This is due to the 
fact that his soul is integrated. When he is riding he is not 
conscious of it; when he is falling he is not conscious of it. The 
idea of life and death, the feeling of alarm and fear, does not 
enter into his heart. Therefore, facing a danger, he is not at all 
disturbed. Such integrity he gains by means of liquor. If so, we 
cannot tell how much more of integrity he would gain from 
heaven. The wise man hides himself in heaven, and therefore 
he suffers no injury whatever. 

“Even a revengeful person would not get angry with the sword 
as such which might have wounded him. Even a wrathful man 
would not harbor any grievance about the flying piece of brick 
which might have hit him. Therefore, the world is at peace [when 
people realize that accidents in themselves have no ill will]. The 
reason why we are saved from warlike activities, from penal exe- 
cutions, consists in revealing heaven’s heavenliness and not man’s 
heavenliness. He who reveals heaven gains life, but he who re- 
veals the man hurts life. When heaven is respected and the man 
is taken care of, we approach the truth.” 

The foregoing section also appears in the Lieh-tzu, with the 
omission of the last paragraph. The author tells us here that 
the reason why the world is disturbed and filled with malevolence 
and querulousness is because we are given up too much to analyti- 
cal thinking and physical powers. If we knew how to preserve the 
integrity of pure spirit, which is the heavenliness of heaven 
( heaven’s heaven ) with no admixture of the base nature of 
humanliness (man’s heaven), the world would be free from all 
kinds of disturbance. Man’s base nature is the outcome of self- 
assertion. The drunkard is benumbed in the sense of self-impor- 
tance — which is his malady, but he is at the same time free 
from self-assertiveness. In short his ego is temporarily suspended, 
he is like “a wooden cock,” he is alive in a sense but altogether 
devoid of ego-centered ill will, and he has no intentional animosity 




toward others. He is also like a piece of tile flying in the wind. 
It may hurt people with no selfish design to do so. Yagyu 
Tajima no kami compares the perfect swordsman to a marionette 
in the hands of the player. It moves not of itself. In a similar 
manner the swordsman’s sword including the man behind it 
moves not of itself, not of himself — that is, it is free from all 
ego-centered motives. It is his Unconscious, not his analytical in- 
telligence, that controls his behavior. Because of this the swords- 
man feels that the sword is controlled by some agent unknown 
to him and yet not unrelated to him. All the technique he has 
consciously and with a great deal of pains learned now operates 
as if directly from the fountainhead of the Unconscious, which 
in terms of Chuang-tzu is the integration of pure spirit ( chhin 
ch’i). Thus the true swordsman must have at least a partial 
realization of “the perfect man.” 

2 . The Woodworker 

c H ’ 1 1 \ G . the woodworker belonging to the court, carved a bell 
stand out of wood. When it was finished it was a wonderful 
work of art. and the viewers thought it to be something super- 
natural. The Duke of Lu saw it and asked Ch’ing, “What tech- 
nique could it be to produce such?” 

Ch'ing replied: “I am a mere mechanic and do not know of 
any special art. But I have one thing to say. When I am about 
to w ork on a bell stand, I try not to w aste my spirit ( ch’i ) . I 
fast in order to preserve serenity of mind. After three days I 
cease to cherish any desire for prize, emolument, or official glory. 
After five days the ideas of praise or no praise and the question 
of workmanship depart therefrom. After seven days I attain to 
a state of absolute serenity, forgetting that I have a body and 
four limbs. At that moment, I forget that I am working for the 
court. My sole concern is about my w'ork, and nothing of external 
interest disturbs me. I now enter the woods and select the most 



suitable tree whose' natural frame harmonizes with my inner 
nature. I know then that I can work out my bell stand. I then 
apply my hands to the work. When all these conditions are not 
fulfilled I do not work. For I perceive that it is heaven [in 
Nature] that unites with heaven [in Man]. It is probably due 
to this fact that my finished product is suspected to be super- 

3 . The Fighting Cock 

CHI HSING-TZU was raising a fighting cock lor his lord. 
Ten days passed, and the lord asked, "Is he ready?” Chi an- 
swered, “No, sir, he is not ready. He is still vain and flushed 
with rage.” Another ten days passed, and the prince asked about 
the cock. Chi said, “Not yet, sir. He is on the alert whenever he 
sees the shadow of another cock or hears its crowing.” Still 
another ten days passed, and when the inquiry came from the 
prince, Chi replied, “Not quite yet, sir. His sense of fighting is 
still smoldering within him ready to be awakened. ’ When 
another ten days elapsed, Chi replied in response to the in- 
quiry: “He is almost ready. Even when he hears another crow- 
ing he shows no excitement. He now resembles one made of 
wood. His qualities are integrated. No cocks are his match, 
they will at once run away from him.” 

4. The Art of Archery 

LIEH-TZU exhibited his skill in archery to Po-hun Wu-jen. 
When the bow was drawn to its full length, a cup of water was 
placed on his elbow, and he began to shoot. As soon as the first 
arrow was let fly, a second one was already on the string, and 
a third followed. In the meantime, he stood unmoved like a 
statue. Po-hun Wu-jen said, “The technique of shooting is fine. 



but it is not shooting of nonshooting. Let us go up to a high 
mountain and stand on a projecting rock over the precipice ten 
thousand feet high, and you try to shoot.” 

They now climbed up a high mountain; standing on a pro- 
jecting rock over a precipice ten thousand feet high, Po-hun 
Wu-jen stepped backward with one-third of his feet hanging off 
the rock. He then motioned to Lieh-tzu to come forward. Lieh- 
tzu fell on the ground with perspiration flowing down to the 

Said Po-hun Wu-jen: “The perfect man soars up above the 
blue sky or dives down to the yellow springs, or wanders about 
all over the eight limits of the world, yet shows no signs of 
change in his spirit. But you betray a sign of trepidation and 
your eyes are dazed. How can you expect to hit the target?” 


I. Ancient Chinese Sources 

For English references, see sec. II. 

Chuang-tzu. Consists of three parts: “Inner,” “Outer,” and “Mis- 
cellaneous.” For translations, see H. A. Giles, Chuang Tzu; and 
Legge, The Texts of Taoism. 

CKun Ch’iu (Spring and Autumn). For translation, see Legge, The 
Ch’un Ts’eic. 

Chung Yung (Doctrine of the Mean). For translations, see Legge, 
Confucian Analects; and Pound, The L nivobhling Pivot. 

I Ching (Book of Changes). For translations, see Legge, The ii 
King; and Wilhelm. 

Lao-tzu (or Tao Te Ching). For Chinese text with translation, see 
C-NRUS. For other translations, see Blarney; L. Giles, The Say- 
ings; Hughes, Chinese Philosophy : Legge, The Texts of Taoism; 
and Waley, The Way and Its Poiver. 

Li Chi (Record of Rites). For translation, see Legge, The Li Ki. 

Lieh-tzii. Consists of seven sections. For translation, see L. Giles. 
Taoist Teachings. 

Lun Yu (The Analects). For translations, see Legge, Confucian Ana- 
lects; Lin, The Wisdom of Confucius; and WAlea', The Analects. 

Meng-tzu (Mencius). For translation, see Legge, The W orks. 

Shill Ching (Book of Odes). For translation, see Legge, The She 

Shu Ching (Book of Annals). For translation, see Legge, The Shoo 

Ta Hsiieh (The Great Learning). For translations, see Legge, Con- 
fucian Analects; and Pound, The Great Digest. 

II. Books in English 

cc = the Chinese Classics; she = -Sacred Books of the East: WES = Wisdom 

of the East Series. 

Acker, W illiam (tr.) . Tao the Hermit: Sixty Poems by T’ao CKien. 
London and New \ ork, 1952. 



Belmonte, Juan. "The Making of a Bullfighter” (tr. Leslie Charte- 
ris), Atlantic Monthly. 159 : 2 {Feb., 1937), 129-48. 

Bhagavad Gita. Tr. Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isher- 
wood. New York, 1954. 

BlAKN'Ey, R. B. (tr.). Meister Eckhart: A Modern Translation. New 
York, 1941. 

— . The Way of Life: Lao T:u. A new translation of the Tao Te 

Ching. (Mentor Book.) New York, 1955. 

Blyth, R. H. Haiku. Tokyo, 1947—52. 4 vols. 

Carus, Paul (tr.). The Canon of Reason and Virtue: Being Lao- 
tze’s Tao Teh King. Chinese text with translation and notes. Chi- 
cago, 1945. 

Chamberlain, Basil Hall. "Basho and the Epigram.” Part iv of: 
Japanese Poetry. London, 1911. 

Chiang Yee. Chinese Calligraphy. 2nd edn.. London. 1955. 

Coomarasvvamy, Ana.nda K. The Transformation of Nature in Art. 
2nd edn., Cambridge, Mass., 1935. 

Duthuit, Georges. Chinese Mysticism and Modern Painting. Paris 
and London, 1936., Meister. See Blakney; Evans; Pfeiffer. 

Eliot. Sir Charles. Japanese Buddhism. London, 1935. 

Eliot, T. S. Complete Poems and Plays. New York, 1952. 

Emerson. Ralph Waldo. The Complete W ritings of R. W. Emerson. 
New York, 1929. 

Evans, C. de B. (tr.). .Meister Eckhart. London, 1924-52. 2 vols. 

Fenellos.a, Ernest. Epochs of Chinese and Japanese Art. Revised 
edn., London, 1921. 2 vols. 

Fischer, Jakob. Deu-drops on a Lotus Leaf: the Life of Rydkwan. 
3rd edn., Tokyo, 1954. 

F UNG L u-lan. a History of Chinese Philosophy. Translated by Derk 
Bodde. Princeton, 1952-53. 2 vols. 

Giles, Herbert A. An Introduction to the History of Chinese Pic- 
torial Art. Shanghai, 1905. 

Itr.). Chuang Tzu. Mystic, Moralist and Social Ref ormer, 

2nd edn., revised, Shanghai, 1926. 

Giles, Lionel Ur. ). The Sayings of Lao-Tzu. (wEs.j London, 1905. 



Giles, Lionel ftr.)- Taoist Teachings from the Book of Lieh Tzu. 
(wES.) 2nd edn., London, 1947. 

Herrigel, Eugen. Zen in the Art of Archery. Translated by R. F. C. 
Hull, with an introduction by D. T. Suzuki. JNew York and Lon- 
don, 1953. 

Hughes, E. R. (ed. and tr.). Chinese Philosophy in Classical Times. 
(Everyman’s Library.) London and Yew York, 1942. 

Kern, H. (tr.). The Sacldharma Pundarika, or The Lotus of the 
True Law. fsBE, xxi.l Oxford, 1909. 

Legge, James (tr.). The Ch’un Ts’etv. udth the Tso Chuen. Chinese 
text, translation, and notes. ( cc, V.) Hong Kong and London, 
1872. 2 vols. 

. Confucian Analects, The Great Learning, The Doctrine of 

the Mean. Chinese text with translation and notes, (cc. I.) 2nd 
edn., revised, Oxford, 1893. 

. The Li Ki (The Book of Record of Rites). Translation and 

notes, (sbe, xxvii, xxviii.) Oxford, 1885. 2 vols. 

. The She King; or. The Book of Poetry. Chinese text, trans- 
lation. and notes. (CC. iv.) Hong Kong and London, 1871. 2 vols. 

. The Shoo King; or. The Book of Historical Documents. Chi- 
nese text, translation, and notes, (cc. iii.) Hong Kong and Lon- 
don, 1865. 2 vols. 

. The Texts of Taoism. Translation and notes, (sbe, xxxix, 

XL.) 2nd imp., London, 1927. 

. The Works of Mencius. Chinese text, translation, and notes. 

(cc, ii.) Hong Kong and London, 1861. 

-. The YiKing (The Book of Changes). Translation and notes. 

(sBE, xvi.) 2nd edn., Oxford. 1899. 

Liebenthal, Walter (tr.). The Book of Chao. ( Monuinenta Serica. 
xiil.) Peking. 1948. 

Lin Yutang (ed. and tr.). The Wisdom of Confucius. (^Modern Li- 
brary.) New York, 1938. 

Morrison, James D. (ed.). Masterpieces of Religious Verse. New 
York and London, 1948. 

Okakura, Kakuzo. The Book of Tea. New York, 1900. With intro- 
duction and notes by Muraoka Hiroshi. Tokyo. 1934. 

Paine, Robert Tre.vt and Soper, Alex.ynder. The Art and Archi- 




lecture of Japan. (Pelican History of Art<) Harmondsworth and 
Baltimore, 1956. 

Pfeiffer, Fr^yz (ed.). Meisler Eckhart. Gottingen, 1857, 

Pound. Ezra (tr.). The Great Dip^est ami The Unuobbling Pivot. 
ith Chinese text from the Stone-Classics of the T ang dynasty. 
New York, 1951. 

Plotinus. The Enneads. Translated bv Stephen MacKenna; 2nd 
edn.. revised by B. S. Page. London and New York. 1956. 

R.adhakrishnan, S. (ed.). EJistory of Philosophy Eastern and W'est- 
ern. London. 1952. 2 vols. 

Richards, f. A. Mencius on the Mind: Experiments in Multiple Defi- 
nition. London and New York. 1932. 

Sakantshi, Shio (tr.). The Spirit of the Brush, (wes.) London, 

San’SOM, Sir George. Japan, A Short Cultural History. New York, 
revised edn., 19-13. 

Sengai. Catalogue of his paintings exhibited at Oakland. Calif., 1956. 

SiCKM.NN, Laure.n’ce and Soper. .Alexander. The Art and Architec- 
ture of China. (Pelican History of Art.) Harmondsworth and 
Baltimore, 1956. 

Suzuki, D.visetz T. Essays in Zen Buddhism, Series i, ii. hi. Lon- 
don, 1950. 19.5.3. 1953. 

. The Essence of Buddhism. 2nd edn.. London. 1947. 

. Introduction to Zen Buddhism. ^^4th a foreword by C. G. 

Jung. New A ork and London, 1949. 

. Studies in Zen Buddhism. London. 1955. 

. Zen and Japanese Buddhism. Tokyo and Rutland, Vermont, 


Thoreau. Henry David. Walden. Boston, 1854. 

Waley, .Irtiiur. Three If ays of Thought in Ancient China. 2nd 
edn.. London. 1946. 

. Zen Buddhism and Its Relation to Art. London, 1922. 

(tr.). The .Inalects of Confucius. London and New AYrk, 


. The Way and Its Power. London. 1934. 

Whitman, W.alt. Leaves of Grass. New A ork, 1855. 

Wilhelm, Richard (ed. and Ir. ). The I Ching, or Book of Changes. 





Translated from German into English by Cary F. Baynes, with a 
foreword by C. C. Jung. New York (Bollingen Series xix), 1950; 
London, 1951. 2 vols. 

ZixssER, Hays. ‘‘History of the Louse,” Atlantic Monthly, 155 ; 1 
(Jan., 1935), 22—31. (Incorporated in his Rats, Lice and History, 
Boston, 1935.) 






The descriptive material in the List of Plates is indexed under the 
plate numbers. Many linguistic variants are given in this index which, 
together with the ideograms, do not appear in the text. 

abdomen 105-6 

Abe Sadato ^ ^ 389rt 

Abhirati 417 

abiding-stage of ignorance ^ ^ 

95, 96, see also avidya 
ablution 91, 305 
abode, original 271 
Abraham 239 

Absolute, the 22, 36, 153, 256, 282, 289 
Acala-vidya-raja/Fudo Myoo 
^ Si i 80, 90, 97, 202, 356, 
PLs. 10, 25b 
acosmism 309 

action, and approach to enlightenment 

Acts of the Apostles 33 

Adachi Masahiro ^ ^ 184^ 

Adam 202, 383 

ddarsaTiajndna/daienkyochi (mirror- 

™dom) HI M 

Adler, Gerhard 185n 
advaitam /funi (nonduality) _"~7. 


advaitism 416 

aestheticism 27, 284-5, 287-8; and 
Zen 3S2ff 

affects 95n, 99ff, 103, 111 
Agero 421 

oi-nuA-e (mutual escape) 169 &*n, 

172, 180 

ai-uchi (mutual striking down) 

169 &n, 171-2, 177-8, 180, 209 
akago no kokoro (mind of an infant) 


Aksobhya 417-18 
dlaya (storehouse) 242, 298 
dlay avijfidna /aray ashiki (all-con ser\'ing 
consciousness) pnj III 165n, 

199, 242 

alcove, see tohunoma 
alertness 133 
All in One 32, 34, 35 
alone, sense of the 22 
aloneness 25, 28, 253-7, 282, 298; 
see also loneliness: sobi; 
solitariness: uabi 
aloofness, transcendental 22; 
see also uabi 

/ch'ang-tao/jodd ^ 


amado (rain door) ^ 341, 365 

Amaterasu Omikami 287 
America, transcendentalism in 343 
Amida/Amitabha fn] ^ 29, 421, 

PL. 13 

Amitabha, see Amida 

anahhinit esa (non-attachment) 172 

Analects, Confucian, see Kongo 

analysis 11, 32, 250 

anarchism 63 

anecdotes, Zen 352 

Anezaki. Ma^aharu 355 

angels 375 

angya (traveling on foot) 128 

animals, Buddhist attitude to 380 
animism 363 
annihilation 229, 309 
anticipation 117 




antiquity, in art 24 
anupalabhday see unattainable 
anutpattika-dharma-ksdnti /mushd- 
bonin ^ 414rt 

approachability, in art 27 
apratisthd (no-abode) 172/i 
Araki Matayemon ^ ^ ^ 

73 / 

arayashiki, see dlayavijhdna 
archery 147, 439/ 
architecture: Buddhist 26; 

skyscrapers 337n 
Arima Vusei 184 
armut 296 

art 144; Chinese 69; Japanese 22^ 
257: and purpose 376; subjective 
in 160; Zen and 153, 160, 219; 
see also creativeness 
Artemisia moxa 255n 
artist: and unconscious 242; world 
of the 17; and Zen 17 
Asagao ya! 239n, 244 
Asahga ^ ^ 49 
Asataro Miyamoto 332n 
Asatsuma 81n 

asceticism: and love of nature 351/; 
moral 27, 70; Zen and 350^; 

Zen, and warrior 62, 70 
Ashikaga period 13n, 41, 56, 69, 

92, 120, 301, 307, 339; 
nationalism in 47; trade in 69 
Ashikaga Takauj i ^ 90 

Ashikaga Yoshimasa ij 272, 

285, 317 
“as if” 294 
as-it-is-ness 171 
Asvaghosa/Memyo ^ 207 

as^mimetry 26/ 

Atlantic ^loTithlv 117 
atrophy, mental 148 
attachment, freedom from 154, 412, 415 

attack, technique of 209 
Augustine, St. 401n 
Avalokite&vara ^ ^ ^ ^ 

98, 252, 365n; see also Kwannon 
Avatamsaka Sutra ^ 49/, 354, 415 

avidya J mumyo J tcu-ming (ignorance) 

^ ^ 95, 103, 425 
Au-akening of Faith 207 

Baki, see Ma Kuei 
Bakufu, Kamakura 55 
balance 27 

bamboos 31, 36, 325, 369 
banana plant 231, 244 
Banzan Hojaku/P'an-shan Pao-chi 
llj S ft 145. 203 
barrel-picker 388 
base, swordsman’s 162 
Basho ^ H 127, 227^, 243/, 251/ 
254#, 261# 344, 382, 383, 392 
PLs. 48, 49, 50, 51, 52 
hasho (banana plant) 244, 382 
Baso Doichi/Ma-tsu Tao-i ^ Jll.^ — * 
8, 66n, 121/ 125, 134, 139n, 405, 409 
Bayen/Ma Yuan ^ 22, 26, 29, 

PLS. 5, 45 

Baynes, Cary F. 174n 
beastly-minded 169, 173 
beauty 355; and perfection of form 
24; and religion 363#; transitoriness 
of 381 

hecoming/wu-hua/bukkiva 251; 

and being 265; wheel of 405/ 
beggars 366 
begging 412 

being: and becoming 265; and 
not-being 158 
belief 360 
bell, temple 248# 

Belmonte, Juan 117# 

Bhagavad Gita 311# 



hhakti 347 

bhutakoti (limit of reality) 347 

Biwa, Lake 74, 325 
“Blue Rock Collection,” see Hekigan-shu 
BK th, Dr. R. H. 228, 232n, 234, 237, 
PLS. 48, 49, 52 

Bodai Daruma, see Bodiiidharma 
bodhi (enlightenment) 426 
Bodhidharma/P’u-t’i Ta-mo/Bodai 
Daruma ^ ^ ^ 77, 136n, 

283, 405, PLS. A, 21, 41, 42 
bodhimandala^ see dojo 
Bodhisattva/p’u-sa/6osarsu ^ ^ 29, 

67/, 379, 414^ 

body 17, 146, 164; five ways of 
posing 101; and mind, relation 107 
Bokusai PL. 57 
ionno, see klesa 
books 4$ 

Book of Annals., see Shokyo 
Book of Changes^ see Yekikyo 
Book of Odes, see Shikyo 
Book of Tea 302 
bosatsu, see Bodhisattva 
bow, monk’s 8, 403/ 409 
Brotherhood, Buddhist 366/ 
brush, thrifty 22 
brushes, painters’ 379 
Bubi Wakun 210n 
Buccho 239/ 

bucket 245 

Buddha 37, 79; declaration of, at 
birth 179, 304: enlightenment of 
6, 223 PL. B; of Infinite Light 29; and 
the mind 104; Psirv'ana picture of 
377/', PL. B; passing of 82, 392; triple 
body of 425n; and Yuima dll/*; 
see also ^akyamuni 
Buddha-body 265, 348, 362, 425n 
Buddha Hall 26 
Buddha-Ksetra, see Buddha-land 


Buddha-land 283, 378 
Buddhism 160, 307/; introduction 
into China 3, 48/; and Japanese 
culture 21, 217-18; sects of, and 
social classes 63; and tea 273, 307; 
and tranquillity 308; see also 
Hinayana; Mahayana; Zen 
buildings, high 337n 
Bujutsu Sosho ^ ^ 125/1 

Bukko Kokushi/Mugaku 
Sogen/'^’u-hsueh Tsu-yuan 

^ 65-7, li t, 201/, 

PL. 36b 

Bukkoku Kokushi ^ ^ ^ 100, 


bukkua, see U'li-hua 
bullfighting lllff 
bun, see fen 

Bunan Zenji 102n 

Bungei Shunju ^ ^ 205n 

Bunsei PL. 30 
burglar, Ryokwan’s 365 
burglary, art of 10, 222 
Bushido -i 0; 18, 30, 69/ 72, 79, 
83; and death 72/ 

Bushido Sosho 184 
Buson, see Yosa Buson 
butterfly 248-51 

caddy, tea 323, 327/ see also utensils 
calligraphy 30, 370, PLs. 21-6, 36b, 

37b, 62 

Carlyle, Thomas 3 43 

cat 114; and Nirvana pictures 380/; 

swordsman and the 428/’ 
cedars 371 

ceremonies, social 313/ 
ch'a-ch'a/sassalsu (lively and self- 
assured) ^ ^ 235n 

Chamberlain, Basil Hall 387n 
ch'an , see Zen 




cJCang (forever) 305 
Ch’ang-an 353ra 

Cli’ang-cb’ing Hiii-ling, see Chokei Eryo 
changeability 380 
Chang Heng-ch’ii/Cho 0-kyo 

Chang-sha Ching-ts’en, see 
Chosha Keishin 
ch^ang'tao^ see always-so-ness 
cha-no-yu 26, 272, 295; 

Takuan on 276-8; see also tea 

Chao family 42 

Chao-chou Ts'ung-shen, see Joshu 

Charteris, Leslie 117n 
che-ko, see shako 
Chen, see Shin 

chinjiei (perseverance) ^ 174 

cheng (state of things as they are) 261 
ch'eng/makoto (sincerity) 51, 177 

ch'Sng’ch'ing/jdjd (droop and drift) 

0 ^ 235n 

CVeng Hao/Tei Ko ^ see Ch'eng 

Ch'eng I-ch’uan/Tei Isen ^ jl| 51 

Ch’eng-kuan/Chok>van 50/ 

Ch'eng Ming-tao/Tei MeidO ^ 

51, 54, 273 

chen-jerit see man, true 
cherry blossoms 81n, 320, 386/^ 
chi (wisdom, tranquillity) 174, 284; 
see also chih,jaku 

ch'i/ki (spirit) 51/ 149, 159, 165, 
430/ 436 

Chia-hsiang Ta-shih/Kajo Daishi ^ 

glti 49n 
Chicago 33 7n 
Chigi, see Chih-i 
Chigon, see Chih-yen 
chih/chi (^visdom) 

Chih-i/Chigi 49rt 

chih-jen, see shijin 
chih'ino (suchness) see shih-mo 
Chi Hsing-tzu ^ 439 

Chih-yen/Chigon 49n 

chikuto (bamboo sword) 205n 
child(ren) 183, 373-4, 375 
China: attitude to Buddhism in 

3, 307-8; influence of Zen in 21, 346; 
introduction of Buddhism into 3, 48; 
swordsmanship in 170 
Chinese: attitude to Buddhism 3; 

national character 54-5 
Ch'ing the ^voodworker 438 

chuig. see hei 
ching/k^o 295 
ching-ai, see kyogai 
ching-chieh, see kyogai 
Cbing-ch'ing Tao*fu, see Kyosho 
ching-shen, see seishin 
Ching'tsun, see Keijun 
Ching't’u, see Jodo 
Chisho Daishi PL. 10 
Chi'tsang/Kichizo 49; 

see also Chia-hsiang Ta-shih 
Chiyo ^ f-\; 224-5, 239n, 241-7, 382 

ch’i-ynn, see ki~in 
Cho Densu ^ % 31, 379/ 

Cliokei Eryo/Ch'aiig-ch'ing Hui-ling 


Chokes an, see Ch'eng-kuan 
Cho 0-kyo, see Chang Heng-ch’ii 
Chorakuji PL. 36b 

Chosha Keishin ''Chang-sha Ching-ts'en 

Chou dynasty 46n 

Chou Tun-i/Shu Ton-i ^ 31 

Christ 145, 239. 253, 259, 409; 

cruciflxion of 378 
Christianity 360; and wine 273 
and Zen 347 




Ch’u, king of 166n 

Chuang-tzu/Soji ^ 48, 90-1, lOOn, 
149, 165n, 179, 208, 211, 225, 235, 
245n, 251, 259, 261, 353n, 436^ 
Ch^uau’teng Lu^ &ee Dentoroku 
chu-chang, see staff 
Chugan Yengetsn E ^ 

Chu Hsi/Shushi, Shuki ^ 45, 48, 

51, 52, 53-6 

Chu Hui-an/Shu Kwai-an 
see Chu-tzu 

ch'un ch'i (pure spirit) 436, 438 

Ch'un C/i'i’u, see Shunju 
Ch’ung-hsin, see Soshin 
Chung Yung^ see Chuyo 
Chu-tzu/Shushi/Chu Hui-an, Shu 
K-wai-au ^ 44n 

Chu\d/Chung Yung/ Doctrine of the 
Mean 44n, 46n, 51 

cicada 252-3 

circle, as symbol of proficiency 121 
cittagocara (mental field) 293n 
climate, Japanese 275 
cloudiness 221n 
clouds 156 
clover, bush 229-30 
cock: fighting 439; wooden 437 
communism 63 
complementarity 236 
compassion. Buddhism and 61 
concentration 183, 226 
concept: and instinct 194; as 
medium 359/ 

conceptualism 141, 194, 218-20, 361 
conceptualization 5, 15, 16, 175, 

177, 182, 401 
Concord 343 

Confucianism 18, 42. 307; and the 
One Mind 101; and Taoism 48/; and 
tea ceremony 305; and Zen 18, 

21 , 41 ^ 

Confucius 52, 277. 435 
consciousness 163, 165n, 197/. 295; 
awakening of 12, 143n; cosmic 342; 
and death 198; layers of 242; and 
mental rigidity 110 
“Constitution,” Shingen’s 78 
“Constitution of Seventeen Articles” 

275, 305 &n 
convention 373 

Corinthians, St Paul's First Epistle to 

cosmogony 51 
cowardice 65 
creative principle 174 
creativeness/creati\ity 36/ 141, 144, 
146, 156, 218-20, 211/ 
cuckoo 224/ 

Cultural East^ The 298 

Daidoji Yusan ^ ^ ill 72 

daienkyochi^ see dJarsanajhana 
Daigaku/Ta Hsueh/Great Learning 
^ ^ 44n, 46n, 51 
Dai-6 272 

Daishu Ekai/Ta-chu Hui-hai ^ 


Daito Kokiishi/Shuho Mvoho 
g gip 123, 300, PLS. 23, 55. 56 
Daitokuji ^ ^ 9 In, 272, 300, 

318; tearoom at 381 
daiyu/la-yung ^ 142n 

Daley, Edith 265 &n 
dancing 114, 374 
Da,is5 |f^ ^ 194 

Daruma, see Bodhidharma 
Dasabhumika Sutra -p 50 

Dasein 124 

Date Chihiro ^ ^ ^ 394 
Date Masamune ^ ^ 77n, 


dead, Buddhists and the 67n 



death 284: attitude to 82^; fear 
of 71/, 209; great 197; Samurai 
and 71; swordsmanship and 141, 
182; transcending 122, 142, 197; 
verses at 81/ 

de Bary, Anna Bunston 265 An 
deliberation 107, 146 
delinquency, juvenile 194 
delusion 95/, 103, 198; destruction 
of 97 

democracy 63, 279; in tea ceremony 
278; in Zen monasticism 4 
Dengyo Daishi ^ ^ gtj] 335 
Dentoroku /Ch'uari-teng Lii/‘*TranS“ 

mission of the Lamp" 'df ^ 37n, 
145n, 293n, 294n, 296n, 349n, 400n 
desire 154 
determinism 188 

devas (celestial beings) 167/, 413/, 417 
Dharma//a/Ao 37, 228, 378, 402rt, 
404, 414n, 415, 418, 424 
Dharma, ^^heel o(/dharmacakra/fa-lin/ 
horin ' 2 ^ 1 ^ 79 

dharmacakra^ see Dharma, Wlieel of 
Dharma Hall 26 

dharmakdya/hosshin/fa-shen ^ 


dhyana 78/1, 400; see also ck^an; Zen 
dialectics 6; Buddhist 3 
diaphragm 185n, 186 
dilemma 178n 
Dipankara 64 

discipline 16, 157 

discrimination 35, 107, 250f, 359, 412, 

“diseases,” in swordsmanship 153/ 

157, 163 
Do, see Tao 
Doan ^ ^ 322 
Doctrine of the Mean^ see Chuyo 
dogakUf see Tao, Science of the 

Dogen % 275/ 342, 363, 364n 
Dogo, see Tenno Dogo 
“doing by not-doing” 133 
dojo /bodhimandala 128 

doka (poems of Tao) 113 

Dokyo Yetan/Shoju Ronin ^ ^ ^ 
^ 203-5 
doll, wooden 165 

door 321; in Japanese house 341n 
Dotoku-ky o, see Tao Te Ching 
doubt, intellectual 20 
dragon 420 
drifting, of mind 103 
dualism 52, 90. 94, 97, 110, 242, 304, 
311, 357, 360 

duality 127, 135; see also subject 
and object 

Duthuit. Georges 31 
Dynasties. Three 273 

Ecchu 80, 421 

Ecclesiastes 234 

Echigo 76n, 80, 262, 364, 421 

Eckhart. Meister 289, 294, 296, 312 

Eden, Garden of 11 In, 202 

ego 144 

egocentricity 262 
ego-consciousness 133, 149 
ego{t)i5m 173, 225/ 358 
egolessness 127, 144 
Eigenji ^ ^ 357 

“Eight Sage Drinkers” 327 
Eisai ^ 62, 272 

Eisenhower, General of the Armies 
Dwight D, 337n 
Eka/Hui-k’o pl. 22 
ekdgratd (one-pointedness) 183, 226 
elements: four, of art of tea 273; 

five/uu-Asing 278 
Eliot, Sir Charles 85n, 345 
Eliot, Thomas Steams 9n 



emancipation 5, 16, 412/: see also satori 
Emerson, Ralph Waldo 123n, 207, 

312, 343-4 

empiricism, and Zen 50 
emptiness 36, 127, 136n, 149, 152, 

153, 158, 163, 172n, 200, 241. 296, 298, 
300^, 347, 349, 352, 361. 363, 402n; 
swordsman and 164, 205; 
see also sunvatd 
empty-mindedness 1 14 
energy 159; see also ch’i: psychic 433 
Engakuji 65, 67/, 201 
Enkai PL. 61 

Enkei Komon/Yen-ch’i Kuang-wen 
PL. 20 

enlightenment 5, 6, 16. 228. 413, 426; 
see also sambodhi, satori: of 
Buddha 6, 223; verbal and actual 
approach to 5-6 
Eno, see Hui-neng 
en-soi 124, 228, 407 
Entei/Yen-t’ing 400 
environment, man and his 306 
epistemology 358-6 1 
equality 278 

escape, tea ceremony and 288, 303, 309 
eternity 251, 314 
evil 33 

exhaustion 193 
experience, poetical 237 

/a, see Dharma 
face, original 206 
facts, world of, and Zen 347 
faena 118-19 

faith 118, 183; and intuition 252 
fa-lin, see Dharma, Wheel of 
fang’hsiriy see hoshin 
fascism 63 

fa-shen, see dharmakdya 
Fa-tsang/H6zo ^ 49n 

fearlessness 193, 253 
feeling 219ri 

fenjbun (mutuality) ^ 85 

Feng Hu-tzu, see Fukoshi 
firefly 234-5 
fisherman 233-4 
Five Canons 44n 
Five Mountains 45, 46, 56, 318 
fleas 237, 372 
flint 102 

flower arrangement 41 
flower vase 325, 385 
flowers 353 

fluidity 14. 95, 144, 158; see also mind 
form 274: and consciousness 434; 

and emptiness 425 
fortification 310/ 

Fort of Robes 389n 
Four Books 44, 45, 51 
fraternity 278 

freedom 5/. 168: and creativity 144; 
and pur[»oseIessness 376: in 
swordsman 144, 158 
freewill 189 

frog 227, 231, 238-40. 244, 257, 382/ 
fuchi/pu-chih 136 

Fu-chou, see Fukushu 
Fu Daishi/Fu IIsi/Fn Ta-shih/ 


fudokoro (chest) 372 
Fudo, Yellow PL. 10 
Fudo Myoo, see Acala-vidya-raja 
Fudo-shimmyo-chi, see Prajna 

fudo-shin (immovable mind) iPfs jfp 

/uga (refinement of life) 257/ 

Fugen Bosatsu, see Samantabhadra 
Fu Hsi, see Fu Daishi 
Fuji, Mount 77n, 256, 328, 331^^, 

363, 376 



Fujiwara lyetaka ^ ^ ^ 25n 

Fujiwara Sadaiye J^* ^ ^ 25, 

297, 390 

Fujiwara Seikwa 56 

Fuji5vara Toshinari ^ 390 

Fujiwara Yoshifusa ^ ^ ^ 390 

Fukagawa 326 
fukatoku, see unattainable 
Fukossbi/Feng Hu-tzu ^ 166n 

Fukui Kyuzo, Dr. 150n 
Fuku&hu/Fu-cbou 399 
Fu Kyu, see Fu Daishi 
Fumai, Lord 326 

ybni, see advailam 
furaho (lunatic) ^ ^ 238-9 
furyu (feeling for nature) ^ 81, 
257, 326, 389n 

fushiki/pu’shih (beyond knowledge) 

|gj 136 

Fu Ta-shih, see Fu Daisbi 
Fuyuki 326 

Gandary«/ia Siura ^ ^ ( A. 

^ pp ) ^0, 415 
Ganga ‘\£ '^pj 92, 3t9, 417 
Ganki/Yen Hui PL. 6 
Ganto Zenkatsu/Yen-t'ou Ch'uan-huo 

gardens 31, 41 
geese, wild 8, 17 
geiko/keiko (disciplining) 195 
Gi’kken Sodan i^l] 12% 212 

Gckko Shdin, see ^ ueh-chiang 

gemmyo ,'hsiian~miao 220 

Gen PL. 23 

gen/yiian (the sublime) 174, 220fi 

generalization 11 
genius 32, 153, 222, 226 
Genj5, see Hsiian-chuang 

Genshin Sodzu pl. 13 
gentleness of spirit /yauaragi 274^ 
Genye 46 

gi, see i 

Gido Shushin ^ 46 

gobunsho ('‘honorable letters”) 


God 183; as “I am who I am” 227; 
and creation 208, 227, 239; 
elusiveness of 15; love of 321/; 

Zen and 347 

Godaigo ^ 55/, 69, PL. 53 

Godoshi, see Wu Tao-tzu 

gods: in Zen 347-9; w'ay of the 374 

gogasha, see gangdnadlvdlukd 

gogo 368 

Gogo-an Tf. 368 

go-hei '0 ^ 93n 
Goo. see \^’u-weng 
goodness 208 
Goho H6ven/\^ u-tsu Fa-ven 

Gotoba, ex-emperor ^ ^ Jz ^ 


goioku 3f_ 323 

Gotsnehimikado Tennu y 

5^ ^ 336. 338 
Gottan/Wu-an ^ 61' 

grace 221, 230 
grasping, immediate 360 
Great Learning, see Daigaku 
great-perfect-mirror- wisdom 121 
Greeks 360 

Gunin/IIung-jen 126n, 402 

Gyo, see Yao 

Hagakure ^ 70, 72/", 281n 

hagi 229 

haiku jJl*: ^ 18, 41, 221/; 383, 386/; 

393; and Japanese character 262/"; 
nature in 382/ 



hakama (skirt) ^ 192 

haka naki (transient, vain) 234 
Hakata 244 

Hakuin Q 203, pls. 25b, 40, 42, 
55, 60 

hakutaku / pai-tse ^ 168 

Han Dynasty 42; Latter 48 
Hanazono Tenno, Emperor 
46, 69 

hannya^ see prajnd 
hannya-haramita, see Prajhdpdramitd 
Han-shan, see Kanzan 
Hanshan Shih^ see Kanzan Shi 
hao-jan chi ch'i, see kdzen no ki 
haori (upper coat) ^ 192 

happd biraki (open on all sides) 

Hariya Sekiun ^ ^ 170-2, 201 

harmony, see xia 

Harunobu 80; sec also Takeda 


Hatta Tomonori ^ ^ ^ 391 
Hayashi Kazan ^ [Jj 56 

heart 185n 
heathenism 54-5 

heaven, man’s and heaven’s 437, 439 
Hebraism 334 
Heian period 29 

Heijulsu Yokun ^ 184 

heijo-shin (everyday mind) 


Htkigan-roku 399n; see also 

Hekigan-shu/ Pi-yen C/ii/‘'BIue Rock 
Collection” 8n, 17n, 32^ 

34u, 136n, 151, 314n, 344n, 353n, 
359n, 399ff 
Hellenism 334 
hen (partial) ^ 107 

henamushi 339 
/leng, see ko 

Henkei-shi/Pien Ch’ing-tzu 208 
herb, medicinal 265 
Herrigel, Eugen 120n 
hi, see karund 

Hideyoshi, see Toyotomi Hideyoshi 
Hiei 335 

hin/p'in (poverty) 296 

Hinayana Buddhism /]n 6, 412 

Hirosawa, pond of 116 

Hiroshige 333 

history. Sung philosophy and 52 

Ho (Zen master) 297 

ho, see Dharma 

ho (harmony) 305n: see also ua 
“Hoi*’ see Katsu 
hdben / u pdyaka ti sn Jya (sk illfu I 
means) -jlS 411 
Hodgson, Ralph 265n, 266 
Hofuku Jutcn/Pao-fu Ts'ung- 
chan f6i tJb K 293, 297 
Hojo family/regime 29, 62, 63, 


Hojo Takatoki 0-$ 83, 81 

Hojo Tokimune ^7 29, biff, 201, 

350/*, PL. 36b 

HojO Tokiyori 0$ 29, 63/, 69, 350/ 

Hojo Yasutoki ;jj2 ^ 63, 325, 


hoko (Chinese weapon) 170 

Hoko/Peng-k’ou, Mount 400 
Ho Koji/P’ang Chii-shih fH ^ 

16, 122, 134, 148, 294 
Holy Path 6 

honrai no memmoku/ pen-lai mien-mu 
(original face) ^ ^ @ 206 

hodishin (original mind) ^ 110, 206 

Hood, Thomas 388 
Hori Kintayu ^ ^ 132, 134 

horin, see Dharma, Wheel of 
horse, wooden 148 
HoryujiiiH^ 411 





hoshin^ see sambhogakava 
hoshin /fang-hsin (runaway mind) 


Hoshin of Taizui 400 
Hosokawa family 379 
hosshin, see dharmakdya 
hossu 131 

Hotei 375 

hototogisu (cuckoo) 224-5 
H 020 , see Fa-tsang 
Hozoin school 223 

Hsia Kuei, see Kakei 
Hsiang-yen Chih-hsien, see Kyogen 

hsi-hsi/kiki (%\Teathed in smiles) 


hsin^ see kokoro 
hsin-chai, see shinsai 
hsiu'hsing, see shugyd 
Hsiu'sban, see Sbuzan 
hsii, see kyo 


hsuan-miao, see gemmyo 
Hsiieh-feng, see Seppo 
Hsiieb-t’ou Chung-hsien, see 
Seccbo Juken 

Hsii-t’ang Chih-yii/Kido Chigu pl. 21 
Huai river 41 
Huang-po pl. 24b 

Huan-Mvi K’o-cb'in. see Yengo Kokugon 
hua-shen, see nirmdnakdya 
Hua-yen school, see Kegon 
Hu-ch‘i, see Kokei 
Hui-k’o, see Eka 

Hui-neng/Eno Hln, 126rt, 

158n, 402, pls. 1, 20 
Hui-ssb/Yeshi 49n 

Hui-wen/Yemon ^ ^ 49n 
hu-jan nicn ch'i/kotsunen nenki (sudden 
awakening of thought) 207 

Hung-jcn, see Gunin 
huo-t'ou (fire) 400 
hut: and art of tea 272; see also 
meditation room 

Hyakujo Ekai/Pai-chang Hui-hai 

8, 274, 298, 403# 
Hyakujo Shingi "g* ^ ^ 274 

Hyakuma Yamauba ^ 


Hyogo 90 
Hyuga 46 

i/gi (justice) ^ 106n, 174 

Ichijo Tenno, emperor — • ^ ^ 


ichinen/i-nien (one thought) — - ^ 
149, 207 

J Ching, see Yekikyo 
Ichi-6 PL. 36b 
Ichiun, see Odagiri Ichiun 
idealism: and realism 422; “sky-void” 

identification/identity 182, 246, 265, 
355, 358, 359, 360, 361, 377, 425; 
with nature 361: spiritual 358; of 
swordsman and sword 195, 206, 209 
identity, see identification 
ideograms, Chinese 235n 
ignorance 99/, 103, 425; abiding-stage 
of 95/; see also avidyd 
iho/ihori (hut) 337 
ikku, see word, one 
Ikkjii — ^ 272, 285, pls, 25a, 57 
“I know not,” Bodliidharma’s 77 
i'k^ou, see word, one 
illumination, sudden 51; see also 
satori; enlightenment 
images; and intuitions 240-1; 
in haiku 243 

Imagita Kosen ^ J[| 203n 

imbalance 27 




inuuanentism 33 
im-mediacy 15, 408 
immortality 142 
immovability, see Prajna 
imperfection, beauty in 24 
Inari, god of ^ ^ 92 

incense 173, 274, 299, 384 
Indara/Indra, see Yin-t'o-lo 
Indian thought: and Chinese mind 42, 
49-50, 307; Chi-tsang and 49; 
introduction to China 3 
infancy, return to 176 
infantism 177, 179, 180, 183 
inferiority complex 279 
informality, in art 27 
inhibitions 165; removal of 109 
i-nien, see ichinen 
innen Q ^ 352 
innocence, state of 11 In 
Inouye Tetsujiro 184 
insecurity 337-8n 
inseparability 359 
iustantaneity 103 
instinct 194; animal 11, 142-3n; 
myo and 197; of self-preservation, 
see self-preservation; sublimation 
of 194 

insufficiency, see wabi 
integration 437 

intellect 11, 141, 144, 155, 178n, 
337-8n; Zen and 271 
intellection 15, 32, 140-1, 156, 

241, 250 

intellectualization 15, 146, 155, 337n 
intelligence 233; animal 213-14 
interpenetration 265 
intuition 17, 30, 32, 44, 50, 61, 121, 
157, 192, 219, 241-3, 253, 358^; 
and faith 252-3; haiku and 240, 
243; religious 243-4 



isagi-yoku 84 

Isan Reiyu/Kuei-shan Ling-yu 

iS lU ® 

Ise shrine 229—30 

Ishikawa Jozan ^ |Jj 331n 

Ishikawa Yorihira ^ J[] ^ Zp 391 

“is-ness.” see suchness 

Issa - — - 235 

Ito Kagehisa 428 

Ittoryu — 73 ^28 

Iwamuro 370 

lyehara Jisen ^ ® Q illj 325-6 
lyeyabu 327, 333, 337 
lyeyasu shrine 26 

jaku (tranquillity) 273, 284, 304, 
308, 309, 311; see also chi; sabi: sdnti 
jakumetsu (nirvana) 308 

Jakushitsu ^ 357 
Japan: culture of, and Buddhism 
217-18; and Zen 21^, 364; 

16th-century 79 

Japanese: character of, and Zen 85, 
345_^; gentleness of 275; 
psychology of 21 
jen/jin (love) 106n, 174 

ji/shih lOln 
Jih-lien, see INichiren 
jiji muge ^If: 158n 

Jimmu-ryu 184 
jin, see jen 

Jinno Sholo Ki ^ iE ^ 

j'isei, see “parting-^^•ith-life verse” 
Jitloku/Shih-te ^ 25, 336n, 375, 

PLS. 6b, 19 
Jiun Onko PL. 24a 
Jiyen Sojo [H ^ jE 390 
jivu/tzu-yu (self-reliance) ^ ^ 6 

jizai / tzu-tsai (self-being) 6 
Jizoin 1^ 127 

jha 36 

» • 


j6do/Cliing-t’u school 28, 29, 


jodo^ see always-so-ness 

Jofukyo Bosatsu/Sadaparibhuta 279 

John, St., Gospel of 259 

jojo, see chSng-cheng 

Jo-6 IS Mg 272 

Jorinji/Ting-iin Ssu ^ ^ ^ 273 

Josetsu ^[1 ^ 15, 31, PL. 2 

Joshu/Shu-chou ^['| 401 

Joshu Jushin/Chao-chou Ts'ung-shen 
@ #1 # tf, 34^5, 283, 297, 310, 

Joso ^ 236 

Ju, see tathatd 

juan ho ho ti (softness) 


Jung, Carl Gustav 185n 

Kanzan/Hdn-shan [Jj 25, 336, 

356, 363, 366, 375, pls. 6a, 18, 23 
Kanzan Shi / Han-shan Shih |jj 

Kao Jan-hui/Ko Zcnki PL. 27 
Kao Tsung, emperor ^ 41 

kara ^ 129 

karma 104, 367-8, 426; of birth and 
death 139 

karund/hilpei 425n 
kasdy a, see kesa 
kashi trees 322 
Kashima, god of 120 
Kdsyapa ^ 277, 412 

Katajima Takenori 210n 

Katatsuki ^ ^ 323, 328 
“Katsu!*V^t> 66&n, 145n 

Katsura Palace pls. 8, 9 

Kaga 224 

Kagawa Zenjiro ^ )\\ 0 ^ UJi 

Kai, province of 76n, 78 
Kajo Daishi, see Chia-hsiang Ta-shih 
Kakei/Hsia Kuei ^ 29 

kakemono (scroll) gf. 281, 299, 302, 

325, 385 

kalpa (age) 399, 400 
Kamakura era ^ 21, 28, 29, 41, 

62/, 67, 69, 82/, 91, 201, 272, 350, 
364n, PL. 36b; nationalism in 47 
Kami-idzumi Ise no kami llidetsima 


170, 181 

kami nagara no michi ^ ^ 


Kamo no Mabuchi /Jfl ^ JiL 391 

Kan-gin PL. 2 la 

kan-mi [Jg 28-1 

Kano Motonobu pls. 46, 47 

Kano Tannyu ^ ^ 327-9 

Kawanakajima 76 
kaya 42 5n 

Kazu-Geiko fu "^T 1^^ 

Kegon/Hua-yen ^ 49n, 30, 52, 

lOln, 158n, 211, 223, 307, 351, 415; 
and Zen 50/ 

Kcgon Sutra 354, 415; see also 

Arataniiiaka Sutra; Gandovvuha Sutra 
kei/ching (reverence) 106n, 177, 
273, 301 

Keian U 45/ 

Kcijun/Ghing-tsiin 402 
keiko^ see geiko 
Kei Shoki ^ 31 

KenchOji ^ 68 

Kendo ^\l ^ 126 
Kenjutsu Fushiki lien ^ij ^ ^ gSl 

Kenshin, see Uyesugi Kenshin 
kesa/kdsaya 129 

keshin, see nirmdnakdya 
Keso PL. 57 




kettle 274, 385 
kU see cKi 

Kichizo, see Chi-tsang; see also 
Chia-tsang Da-shih 
Kido Chigu, see Hsii-t’ang Chih-yu 
Kierkegaard, Soreu 11 
ki-in / cK i-yiXn (spiritual rhythm) 

^ 220 , 221 

Kikaku ^ 231 

kiki, see hsi-hsi 
Kiki, see K‘uei-chi 
killing 132, 145, 160, 166 
Kimura Kyuho 132<S:n, 


Kitabatake Chikafusa ^ 


klesa/bomio (affect) 95n, 103 

knife, dissecting 90-1 
knowledge(s): four r21n;andTao 151/ 
ko/heng (success) 174 
koan 222 

Kobori Yenshu /j^ ^ jj'H 324 
Kofukuji ^ jjig ^ 127 

Kohaku Q 171/ 

Koishikawa dungeon 8 In 
Kokaji (No play) /]> ^ jp 92 
Kokaji Munechika, see Munechika 
Kokei (Hu-ch'i) pls. 30, 58 
kokoro/hsin (mind, heart) j|^ 106n, 

108, 110, 113, 114, 123, 149, 179, 

185n, 200 

kokoro tomeru 103n 
kokoro tomuna 103 
Kokwan Shiren [Ifs] 16, PL. 26 
kono-mama (suchness) 16, 230 

Korean war (1591-8) 67n 

kotsunen nenki^ see hu-jan nien ch i 
Koya 67n 

Ko Zenki, see Kao Jan-hui 
kozen no ki /hao-jan chi cKi 


ksanti (meekness of spirit) 

179, 414 &n 

ku/k'ung/sunyatd 200, 296 
Kucha 353n 

K'uei-chi/Kiki 49n 

Kuei-shan Ling-yu, see Isan Reiyu 
kufu /kung-fu (escape from dilemma) 

X ^ lo-i&n, 109, 112, 157, 

178 &n 
Kugami 370 

Kumarajiva ^ 49, 353, 411 

k'ung/ku/siinyatd 200, 296 
kung-fu^ see kufu 
Kusunoki Masashige /fC X 

72, 90 

Kusunoki Masatsuxa 72 
Kuzumi Morikage pl. D 
Kwai^en '1^ J(| 78 

Kwannon Bosatsu ^ ^ ^ 198/, 

252, 365, PL?. C, 61; see also 
Avalokitesvara: One-Thousand- 
Armed X ^ ^ 

Kwanto 30 
Kwan-yin ^ 436 

Kwanzan [|}i] |Jj 47 
kyo/hsu 149 
k\o, see siitra 
kyo, see ching 

k\ogai/ching-chieh/ching-ai ^ 


KyOgen Shikan/Hsiang-yen Chih-hsien 
254, 293^, PL. 47 

K>Ggoku Anchi ^ 324-5 

kyoku (mad phrase) 258 

Kvosho/Ching-ch'ing Tao-fu 

Kyoto 29, 30, 47, 56, 62, 63, 69, 328, 
350, 379; monasteries in 45, 69, 

Kyozan Ejaku/Yang-shan Hui-chi 




language 155/; and Zen 6 
languages, Chinese and Japanese 235 
Lao-shang 259 

Lao-tzu/Roshi 12, 48, 49, 133, 

149n, 158, 179, 235, 304-5 
law 228; see also Dharma 
learning: and swordsmanship 152; 

and Tao 151-2 
leaves, fallen/falling 236, 341 
leisureUness 286 
Lespedeza striata 229n 
li/rei (propriety) 174 
li/ri (furthering) ^ij 174 
li/ri (reason) 51/, lOln, 113, 432 
Liang K’ai, see Ryokai 
Li Ao, see Ri Ko 
liao-hsi/ry Otari (blown adrift) 


lice 237, 262, 372/; and W ashington 

Li Chi (Record of Hites) see Raiki 
Lieh-tza ^Ij Cf 259-61, 436, 437, 

life: unconscious cra\'ing for 198; a 
whole 356 
lightning 1 14 
Li-hsiieh, see Rigaku 
Li Lung-mien (Ri Ryumin) PL. 4 
Limit, Great 176 
limi tedness 189 
limitless, the/wu-chi 52 
Lin-an ^ 41 

Lin-chi Ch'an, see Rinzai school 
Lin-chi I-hsdan, see Rinzai Gigen 
Lin-chi Lu, see Rinzai-roku 
Ling-yun. see Rei-un 
lion 222; golden-haired 348, 349, 356 
Li Po/Rihaku 298 
localization, of mind lOSff 
logic 172n, 360, 406 
Lokaraksa ^ ^ ^ 48rt 

loneliness: in painting 22; and sa2»i 24, 
253; see also aloneness; solitariness 
Lord’s Prayer 253 
louse, see lice 

love: and language 6; and nature 361; 

principle of 419 
loyalty 226 

Lu; Duke of 438; State of 46n 
Lu Keng, see Rikko 
lun^ see sdstra 
“lunatics” 258, 356, 364/ 

Lun Yii, see Kongo 
Luther, Martin 409 

MacArthur, General of the Army 
Douglas A. 337n 
machine 376 
Mahakasyapa 167, PL. B 
Mahd^•i^a, Mount 298 
Mahayana Buddhism ^ 6, 49, 

95n, 200, 218, 410, 425n 
Maitreya/Miroku ^ ^ 413 
Makino Chikashige ^ ^ ^ 328 

mo/co/o, see ch’eng 
Ma Kuei/Baki pl. 29 
male and female principles 51; 

see also yang and yin 
man; original 176; perfect 142, 206, 
208, 210, 211, 438, 440, see also 
sh ij in ; tru e / chen-jen /sh inj in MA 
8-9, 209 

Manjusri/Weu-shu/Monju 90, 

203, 265, 404, 414jf 
Mannyo 370 

Mannyoshu ^ ^ ^ 331n, 332ri 

Man} and One 28 
mdras (devils) 303 
marionette master 205/ 

Masashige, see Kusunoki Masashige 
materialism 351 
matsu 371 




Matsushima 256 

Ma~tsu Tao-i, see Baso D5ichi 

matter, primordial 52 

Matthew, St., Gospel of 252, 281~2n 

Maya, Queen pl. B 

Ma Yiian, see Bayen 

mechanization 17n 

mediation 408 

meditation room 336 

mediums, conceptual 358^ 

meibun^ see ming-fen 

Meiji era 57 

meijin (genius) ^ 153, 223-4 

Meireki 328 
memory’ 242 
Memyo, see Asvaghosa 
Mencius/Meng-tzu/Moshi 11, 

44n, 51, 106n. 430 
Meng-tza, see Mencius 
mSn-men (depressed) 235n 
metaphysics: Indian, and Zen 350; 
of the sword 166; and swordsmanship 
150, 160; and tea ceremony 309; 

Zen 4, 108n, 219. 350 
methodology, Zen 221 
metsu/mieh 308 
miao^ see myo 
miao-yung^ see myoyu 
miehf see metsu 
military mind, and Zen 61/ 

Milton, John 227 
Minaraoto family ^ 62 

Minamoto Sanetomo 'jj/f ^ 272 

Minamoto Tokushu ^ ^ 129, 


Minamoto no Yorimasa 

390, 395 

Minamoto no Yorizane ^ 


Minamoto Yoshiiye ^ 389 

Minatogawa 90 

mind 7, 78, lOln, 179; absolute and 
relative 155; conscious of itself 111; 
direction of lOSj/. everyday 147; 
fluidity of 108^, 141; immovable 
1 18, 188, 199; immovable center of 
108; location of i05_/;theOne 104; 
original 200, 205. 206, see aUo 
honshin; original and delusive 109/: 
pervading the body 112: primary 
183; runaway 10b; see also 
consciousness; kokoro 
mind-fasting 149 

mindlessness 432; see also no-mind- 

“Mind-only,” philosophv of 49u 
ming-fen/meibun (names and parts) 


Mino 210 
Miroku, see Maitreya 
mirror 121, 162, 361 
misai no ichinen (subtle trace of 
thought) ^ f,lll — 4 - 182 

Miyaguchi Ikkwansai pl. 34 
Miyamoto Musashi/ISiten 

S' 2 ^ 207, 

PLS. 38, 39, 41, 44 
modern society 373/^ 
mogusa 255n- 
Mohammed 90 

Mokkei/Mu-ch'i ^ -9' Fronlisp., 

PLS. C, 3, 14, 15 
mdku, see romakupa 
Moraoyaina period 301/, 307, 333 
monastery, Zen 4, 28. 43 
“Monastery Regulations'” 274 
monasticism, Zen 4 
mondo/uen~ta ^ 32. 33, 77, 90, 

121/, 348, 352, 353, 399if 
Mongol invasions 51, 64, 68, 201-2 
Monju, see Manjuki 
monkey(s) 213/, 232 



moon: at dawn 113; Japanese love of 
393; Ryota's haiku on 387; 

Saigyo and the 393 
“Moon in Water, the” 116, 127, 148, 
159, 162, 164 

morality: and art 27; Confucian 21; 
paramita of 288 

morning glory 245/, 303, 319/, 379, 

Moses 227 
Moshi, see Mencius 
moshin (delusive mind) 110 

moss 322-3 

Motoori Norinaga ^ ^ ^ 57 

mountains 30; climbing 334 
moxa 255 &n 
mw, see uu 
Mu-ch*i, see Mokkei 
muga (no-ego) i(£ 127, 205 

Mugaku Sogen, see Bukko Kokushi 
mujushin-ken (snord of no-abidiDg 
mind) ^ ^ ^ij 163, 170, 


multiplicity, and tranquillity 336/ 
mumyo, see an'dy d 
Munakata Shiko pL. B 
Munechika ^ 92/ 

munen (no-mind-ness) 

lll&n. 116, 126, 133, 147, 183, 226 
Muramasa 92 

Muromachi era ^ P5J 28 
Musashino 338 

musha’shugyo (training in warriorship) 

miiskin, see no-mind-ness 
mushin no shin ^ jjj> ^ jjj* 110#, 

music, heavenly/!’ic«-/ai 225 
muso (no-thought) 4j£ 5 ® 126 

Muso Kokushi ^ ^ ( r?^ ) 

31, 46, PL. 28 

Muso Soseki, see Muso Kokushi 
mutekatsu-ryu ^It 75 

mutuality//en/Z)nn 251 
myolmiao (wonder) 140, 142n, 

159, 186, 188, 197, 203, 220, 221 
Myoho Renge Kyo, see Saddharma^ 

Myoki-an Tearoom pls. 7, 54 
Myoshinji ^ 47 

myoyu/miao'yung ^ ^ 140, 141n, 

142, 144, 146 

musho'bonin, see anutpattika-dharma~ 

mysterious, the 221; see also myo 
mystical sword, see sword 5.r. mystical 
mysticism; Japanese 238; Zen and 31, 
50, 361 

mystihcation 406 

Nabeshima, Lord 282n 
Nabeshima Naoshige 
“Nabeshima Kongo” ^ ft H ^ 


Nagahama Inosuke ^ ^ ^ 


Nagarjuna fa} 49, 411 
nagas 417 

Nagasaki Jiro Takashige 

^ ^ ® 

Nagoya 325 

Nakano Kazuma ^ 281n 

Na-ko-so 389 
name, and substance 12 
names and parts, see ming-/en 
Nanbo-roku 283 

Nan-cb'iian P’u-yiian, 5ee Nansen 

naniyara yukashi 262 
Nansen Fugwan/Nan-cb’iian P'u-yiian 
353/, 355, 404 
Kara 127, 350, 411 



Nara period 29, 332n 
nationalism 47, 55; Japanese 308 
nature 23, 30, 179, 183, 33 1^/“; 
acceptance of 258; Buddha- 228; 
Buddhist and 378; conquest of 334/; 
heavenly 160. see also Tao; in the 
haiku 383; love of 80, 334^; — , and 
asceticism 351; — , and 
consciousness 143n; — , and 
religion 361^; — , and tea ceremony 
278; observation of 30; primary 
171-7; small things of, see small things 
of nature; state of 23; Zen attitude 
to 361^ 

na U'o shiranu 233 

nazuna 233, 263-4 

ISei Issan, see iN'ing I-shan 

Nichiren (school) Q ^ 28n, 29 

nihilism 309 

Nikko 26 

Ning I-shan/Nei Issan PL. 22 
nirmdnakdya/keshin/hua-shen ^ 

425 &n 

nirvana ^ 139-12, 281, 360, 413; 

picture of Buddha 377/^, pl. B; 
see also jakumetsu 
Niten. see Miyamoto Musa&hi 
Nitoryu school pl. 38 
no-abiding mind, sword of 170^, 179/, 
200; see also mujushin-ken 
no-abode I72n, 201; sword of 170^; 

see also no-abiding mind 
Ndgaku jjg 41, 308 
Kogi K.iten (Maresuke) ^ 


Ndin Hosshi ^ ^]|] 394 

no-mind(ness)/mus/iin/munen ivu-hsin 
$!i 'I’ 94. 100/, liq/ 121/, 127, 

133, 147/ 165, 181, 183, 220, 226, 432 
Nomura Soji ^ 325/ 

nonaction 179^ 

nonassertiveness 101 
non-dtman 127 

non-attachment 172ri, 380, 412 
nonduality 133; see also adi aifam 
nonresistance 179 
No plays fg 92, 339, 419#, see also 
Nogaku; Kokaji 92; Lgetsu 339; 
Yuma~uha 41, 419^ 

‘‘no-sword*’ school 75, 96 
no-tea 309-1 1 
nothingness 309 
Noto bay 80 

nuan ho ho ti ^ ^[1 305n 

nnsa ^ 93u 

nyo, see tathatd 

Kyudo ^ ^ 80 

n> unan-^ihiu (soft-heartedness) 

2 ‘ 3.276 

object, sec subject and object 
obsessions 153, 163 
Oohiai IS’aobumi 391 
octopus 233 

Odagiri Icliiiin /]^ H] — ' §1 

169#, 194, 200, 201. 202. 207. 209 
Oda Nobunaga ^ 79, 301, 


Odawara castle 325 
offensive, tactics of 209 
ofumi 29 

Ogasawara Genshin /h js; it 
170/ 181 

Ogasawara school /j'l ^ 


Ogimachi Tenno, emperor 


Ogura Masatsune /J'v ^ 194 

Ogura ■Masatsune Darisd 1 9 1/z 
Okakura Kakuzo ^ ^ ^ 302, 


Okazaki Masamune jiJj ^ 91/ 




“Oku, Narrow Road of,” see Oku no 

Oku no Hosomichi ^ 229, 

237, 255 

“Old \X’oman of the Mountains” 421-3 
omou ^ 112n 

omowanu « 112„ 

One, the, Zen and 27, 32 
one: and many 28; in all 32, 34/ 
“one-corner” style 22, 24, 26, 27 
one-pointedness /ekdgratd 183, 226 
one word, see word, one 
Onjoji vase g] JjSi ^ 325 

ontology 51 

opposites, and reality 166n, 311 
opposition: principle of 97; of tension 
and relaxation 109 
oppositions 354 
Osaka 210n 

osho (master) 127 

Obumi 46 

Ota Dokwan EH '/H 336/ 

otedama 374 
other-power 6 

Otsuka Tesshin ^ ^ ^ 129-31 

Pai-chang Hui-hai, see Hyakujo Ekai 
painting: Chinese 21, 31; economy in 
22, 24; Southern Sung 21/; see also 

pai’tse. see hakutaku 
P'ang Chii-shih, see Ho Koji 
pan-jo, see prajrid 

P*an-shan Pao-chi, see Banzan Hojaku 
pansy 264 

pantheism 32, 36, 348 
Pao-fu Ts*ung-chan, see Hofuku Juten 
pao-shen^ see samhhdgakdya 
paramita, of morality 288 
parapsychologists 212 
particulars, world of 241 

“parting-with-life verse”//isei -[fr 

passions, three poisonous 293 
patriotism 89 
pei, see karund 
Peng-k'ou, see Hoko, Mount 
pen-Iai mien-mu^ see honrai no 

perfection: absolute/ultimate 82, 100; 
sense of 30 

Perfect Joy, Land of/Abhirati 417 
perfect man, see man s.v. perfect 
philosophy: Buddhist 3: Chinese, 

Zen and 21, 48; and intellect 271; 
in Japan 308, 386; source of 243; 
Sung 41/’, 308; of Zen 7,44,218 
Pien Ch*ing-tzu, see Henkei-shi 
pillow 75/ 
p’i/i, see hin 
pine trees 369/*, 381 
Pi-yen Chi^ see Hekigan-shu 
Pi-yen Lu, see Hekigan-roku 
plant, white-blooming 233 
Plotinus 311 
pneuma 149 

“poet-lunatics” 356, 369; see also 

poetry: Japanese, character of 386/, 
see also haiku, iiaka", and mystery 
254; Western 265 

Po-hun Wu-jen ^ ^ 439/ 

Po Kao-tzu 259/ 

polarization 242 
politics. Buddhism and 217 
polytheism 349 
pond, old 227-9, 238-40, 257 
Pope, the 333n 
Port Arthur 337rt 
positivism; Chinese 54; and Zen 50 
possibilities, storehouse o(/dla\avijndna 





pouT-soi 228, 407 
poverty 23, 27, 253, 284, 296, 304 
practicality, of Chinese 3 
pragmatism, Chinese 350 
prajhd / pan-jo /hannya (transcendental 
wisdom) ^ 32, 36, 103-4, 137, 

193, 219n, 300, 425n; sword of 202/ 

Prajndpdramitd /hannya-haramita/pan- 

Prajndpdramitd Sutras 48 

Prajna Immovable/Fudo-shimmyo-chi 

^ Wi # ^ 

108, 117, 119, 121 
Prajna school 36, 310 
pranidhdna 67 
present, the 413 
“Primer of Bushido” 72 
primitiveness, in art 24 
primrose 265 
printing 41 

proficiency, certificate of: in 

swordsmanship 121; in tea 317 
propriety 277 
prose poems 388 
prostitutes 229/ 
psyche 185n, 431-2 
psychic 185n 

psychology: racial of Japanese 21; 

of tea cult 310 
psychosphere 295 
pu-chih^ see fuchi 
Pueblo Indians 185n 
pu-k'o-te, see unattainable 
punishment / tera-iri 68n 
Pure Land 6, 29, 393, 421 
purity /sci 273; in art of tea 281, 

305, 306; Land of 283, 393, 421 
purposelessness 376, 432, 433 
p'u-sa, see Bodhisattva 
pii-shih, see fiishiki 
P’ut-’i Ta-mo, see Bodhidharma 


Question and answer, see mondo 
quietism 240, 347 

Radhakrishnan, SarvapaUi 230n 
Raiki/Li Chi / Record of Rites 
44n, 45— 6n 
railways, cable 335 
rain 341-2, 344 
rakusu 3^ 129 

ratiocination 406 
rationalism 307 

reality 155, 193; acceptance of 33; 
limit of 347; ultimate 153; 

Zen and 218, 349-50, 361 
reason: eternal 261; and faith 360; 
heavenly 51, 160, 171/, 174, 176^, 
181, 183; see also Tao 
recklessness, and death 84, 209 
recollection 117 
Record of Rifes, see Raiki 
reduplicatives 234 
reflection 15 
rei. see li 

Rei*un/Ling-yun pl. 46 
relativity 6, 156, 243, 300; 

transcending 153, 167, 201 
relaxation 109: interval of 113-4 
religion 271: and beauty 355: as 
e^cape 288; and love of nature 363J7*; 
Zen as 347 

renga ^ ^ 258 dn, 285 

Rengekyo, see Saddharmapundarlka 
Rennyo ^1] 29 

resolute-mindedness 183/, 189 
rest 311 

“restless movements” 355-7 
reverence /A'ei 106n. 273, 277-81, 304 
revolutionary spirit of Zen 63 
ri, see li 

Rigaku/Li-hsiieh philosophy Q ^ 308 
Rihaku, see Li Po 




Rikko/Lu Keng ^ ^ ^ 353, 

354, 355 

Ri K6/Li Ao ^ 37, pl. 29 

Rikyu ;flj see Sen no Rikyu 
Rin-an ^ 77n 

Rinzai Gagen/Lin-chi I-hsuan 

5, 8, 9n, 66n, 145, 

349 tfrn, PL, A 

Rinzai-rohu /Lin-chi Lu S- 


Rinzai school/Lin-chi Ch an )jip 


Ri Ryumin, see Li Lung-mien 
‘‘river of Zen” 5 
rocks 322/ 

Rodin, Auguste 105n 
roji (courtyard) ^ Jiji 281, 283, 307, 
320. 322/ 

romakupa/muku (pore) ^ -115 

rori. see siistra 

nonso/T.un Yii/ Analects of Confucius 
Ifflt# 44n, 51, 282n 
roniii (free-lance samurai) ^ 190/, 


roof, leaking 340 
rosary 172 
rose 266/ 

ROshi, see Lao-tzu 

ruffian and teaman, fight of 189/^ 
ruler, duties of 53 
ryo 324 

ryochi (true knouledge) ^ 17’ 

Ryokai/ Liang K'ai ^ 29 

PLS. 1, 12, 16, 17 

RyOkwan g. 262, 364#, 377, 

PI.. 62 

RyOta ^ 387 

ryotari^ see liao-hsi 
Rvuko^lll)’^ 130# 

sabi 24-6, 27, 253, 257, 283#, 

321/, 326 

sabi-shiori (solitariness) tff 4^7 

Saburozaemon/'Shiaku ^ ]))) /fi fsS P'i 

Sadaparibhuta/Jofukyo Tfs ^ 


Saddharmapundarilia Sulra/Mydhd 
Renge Kyd/Rengehyo ^ 

II g 49, 279n 
Saga 70 

Sages, three laughing PLS. 30, 58 
Saigyo -g 102, 127, 256, 258. 322, 
332, 339-41, 344, 363, 371, 392 
Saito Yoshitatsu ^ l}^ ^ SI 210 
Sakai 317, 323 
Sakai river 421 

Sakawada Masatoshi jf] EH ^ 


sake 298 

Sakyamuni/Shakamuni ^ jJjD 
64, 413, PL. 12; see also Buddha 
salt 76n 

samddhi ■ san-mei / sammai (integration) 

S 0^5 '^8’ 226: see also satori 

Samantabhadra/Fugen Bosatsu 
^ S 404, PL. 11 

sambhogakiha/hoshin/pao-shen ^ ^ 


sambodhi 95n 
sammai^ see samddhi 

samswro ^ 139, 141, 193 

Samurai 69#, 132; and the sword 
89#; and tea ceremony 301# 
samya-sambodbi 414n 
sangha 4 

Sanin Shi 2on 
Sankashu (Jj ^ 102 

San-lai Shih, see Sanrai Shi 
San-lun/Sanron school 2. fiifl 49, 308 
san-mei. see samddhi 
Sanrai Shi/San-lai Shih 25n 

Sanron school, see San-lun 




Sansom, Sir George 85n, 346, 355, 357 
Santa 284 

sdnti 284; see also jaku 
San-yin S/ii/i, see Sanin Shi 
^ariputra/Sharihotsu ^ 415-17 

sassatsu, see cKa-ch'a 
sdstra/lun/ron 9 
satori/w’u 6, 10, 14, 16. 113, 181, 
193, 204, 218, 220, 226, 253, 435; 
see also samddhi 
satori (animal) 115 
Satsuma 45/ 
scales, musical 100 
scarecrow 100 

scholarship, uselessness of 135 
science 24, 250, 254; of the Tao, 
see Tao. Science of the 
screens 274, 327 

Seccho Juken/Hsueh-t’ou Chung-hsien 
g g 34, 298, 344, 363, 

399n. 402, 403, 405/ 
seeing, with the mind 148 
seeker and seeking 157 
sei (purity) 273, 304 
seigivan (vow, prayer) 195 
Seigivan Geiko 
Scisetsu ^ 309, 313 

seishinjching-shen (psyche) ip'll 

Sekiun, see Hariya Sekiun 
Sekkaku/Shi-k*o '|§ 105n 

PLS. 36a, 37a 

self: as form 434; inmo&t 183 
self-annihilation 27 
self-being 6 
self-consciousness 1 19 
self-destruction 93 
self-identity 206 
selflessness 276 
self-power 6 

self-preservation 89, 193, 198 

self-realization 435 
self-reliance 6, 9 
self-sacrifice 89 
semiconscious 242 
Sendai 77n, 333 

Sengai j^lJ ^ 244, PLS. 43, 51, 58, 63 

Seng-chao, see Sojo 

Sen no Rikyu ^ CD 1 

272, 280, 282/ 287, 297, 301, 312. 392; 
death of 302/ 318/; farewell verses 
319; life of 317/* 
sense organs, cleansing of 281 
sentiency 148 

sentimentalism 233, 238. 354—5 
Seppo/Hsiieh-feng pl. 22 
sermons, of Zen masters 4 
servant 186/* 

Sesshu g‘ ^ 31, 258, 392, pls. 32, 33 
shadoof 245 
shadow 431 

Shakamimi. see ^akyamuni 
shako, che-ko 400n 
Sharihotsu, see Sariputra 
shen/shin (soul) jjitjj 436 
Shen-tsimg, emperor 53n 
shen-yiin, see shin-in 
shepherd's-purse/naruno 233. 263-4 
Shiaku, see Saburozaemon; Shxro 
Shiaku Shinsakon NyudO 


Shichi Tsugan, see Tzu-chih Tung-rhien 
shihj see ji 

Shih Ching, see Shikyo 
shih-mo (suchness) ^ 16n 

Sliih-te. see Jittoku 
sh i j i n /ch i h -je n 206, 208 

Shiki 233 

Shi-k'o, see Sekkaku 
Shik\o/Shih Ching/Book of Odes 

I# M ^5-6n 

Shimadzu family 67n 





Shimadzu Nisshiusai ft ^ B ^ 5^ 
46, 67n 

Siiimadzu ^ oshihiro 68n 
Shimbu school 184 
shimmyd-kerti see sNNord 
s.v. mystical 
shirty see shen 

Shin/Chen school 28n, 29, 208 
shinai (pliable sword) 205/i, 214 
Shinaiio 421 

Shin-gachi-rin (Alind-moon-circle) 

PL. 62 

Shingen, see Takeda Shingen 
Shingon ^ 28, 29, 63; Eisai and 


shin-in / shen-yiln 220 

shinjin, see man, true 
Shinkage-ryu ^ ${t 

128, 170 

Shin Kohinsha ^ ^ ^ 300n 

Shinobazu pond 190 
shinsai/hsin-chai (mind-fasting) j[> ^ 


Shintoism/Shintoists 45, 57, 99, 30^; 

sword in 91 
Shirakawa 255 

Shiro/Shiaku pg IS) 83-4 

sho (right, true) j£ 107 
Shofukuji g. fg ^ 244 

Shogen PL. 57 
Shdgunate 301 
Shoguns. Ashikaga 69 
shoji 299 

Shoju Ronin/Dokyo Yetan 

Shokenf^ff 428-9, 434 
Shokin-tei PL. 9 
Shoku, ^>stera 401 
Shokyo/Shu Ching/Book of Annals 
^ ^ 45, 45~6n 

Shdmon, see Sravaka 

Shotoku, Pririce/Shotoku Taishi 

275/, 305<£:n, 411, 

PL. 61 

Shozan/Sung-shan ^ [1] 294 

Shu 401 

Shuai-weng/Sotsu-o PL. 20 
Shubodai, see Subhuti 
Shubun ^ ^ 31, pl. 31 
Shu Ching, see Shokyo 
Shu-chou, see Joshu 
shugyd/hsiu-hsing (training) 


Shuho Myoho, see Daito Kokushi 
shuji'Shuri-ken ^ ^ ,^|] ^ij 


shujoy see staff 
Sbuki, see Chu Hsi 
Shuko ^ 272, 285-6 
Shu Kwai-an, see Chu Hui-an; Chu-tzfi 
Shumitsu, see Tsung-mi 
Shun ^ era 46n, 55 
Shunju/Ch'un Ch'iu/Spring and 
Autumn ^ 45-6n, 52 

ShuDzan ^ [1| 127 

shuri-ken, see shuji-shuri-ken 
Shushi, see Chu Hsi; Chu-tzu 
Shu Ton-i, see Chou Tun-i 
Shuzan/Hsiu-shan 401 
Siddhain style pl. 25b 
simplicity 23, 350, 374 
simplification 28, 271-2 
sincerity 51, 226, 286, 349 
Sino- Japanese war 70 
sitting. Oriental posture in 105n 
Six Dynasties 49 

small things, of nature 231, 238, 382-5 
snowdrop 266 
So, see Sung 

social relationships 53-4 
soft-heartednesS, see nyunan-shin 
softness 305/j 




Soga Jasoku PL. A 
Sogi ^ 258, PL. 49 

Soji, see Chuang-tzu 
Sojo/Seng-chao 353, 355 

Sojo Henjo 'fg' JE M HS 2'*®" 
solitariness 127, 253-7, 304; 

see also aloneness; sahh uabi 
Son-an Reigen/T&*un-an Ling-yen PL. 31 
Sonkyu 208 

sono-mama (goodness) 16, 208, 


Sonshi, see Sun-tzu 

Sosei Hosshi ^ giti 389 

Soshin/Ch’ung-lisin ^ 13-15 

Sotan ^ _H 287, 327 

Solo school 130, 342, 364 

Sotsu-5, see Shuai-weng 

soul, and body 407 

soul-consoling rite 379 

Sound. the 229 

spear: of Hozoin school 223; seizing 
the enemy’s 96 
spirit, see c/i’i: one 358, 361 
spirituality 101, 178/1 
spring 297, 388 
Spring and Autumn^ see Shunju 
^ravaka /Shomon ^ ^ 414^ 

Ssfi-ma Kuang "pj ^ 53 

staff/c/iu-c/iang/s/niyo ^ ^ 7 
stages: four, of universe 400; 

fifty-two, of training 95 
standard of living 352 
State, Japanese, and Buddhism 217 
steel, flint and 102 
steppingstones 321 
stoicism, of Samurai 350 
“stopping”/“stoppage” 95, 98/, 102/ 
107, 110, 116, 143-4 &n, 158n; 
psychical 144 

Studdert-Kennedy, G. A. 267 
Subhuti/Shubodai ^ ^ 412 

subject and object: identity 182, 359; 
opposition 96, 133, 146, 228, 296, 
357, 360 

subjectiv’e, in art 160 
sub j ect ivdty 306 
sublimation 194 
substance 179; and name 12 
“Succession of the Imperial Rulers in 
Japan’’ 55 

suchness 12, 16-17. 35, 175, 228, 230, 
277, 313, 347, 413, 424; in art 376; 
of the mind 108, 183: see also 
chih-mo; kono-mama; tathatd; tai 
siidare 299 
Sudhana 265 
Sui dynasty 49 
suicide 84, 197 

sufci (relaxation) ^ 108/ 143 &n, 149, 

158/1, 182, 188, 194 
Sumeru, Mount 415 
Sumida river 169 
5umiye painting ^ ^ 25, 30, 36, 

124, 385. 386 
sun 334/ 

Sung 'So dynasty 7^ 9. 42, 346; 

philosophy under 21, 41/", 48/", 308 
Sung: Northern 41, 42, 48; 

Southern 21, 41, 42, 43, 54 
Sung-shan. see Shozan 
Sun-hsiu, see Sonkyu 
Sun-tzii, 'Sonshi 133 

sunya (empty) 52 
sunvatd/k'ung/ku (emptiness) ^ 

36, 37, 49. 113, 117, 144, 149n, 172n, 
179, 193, 296, 343, 347, 352. 402u 
supen\'orId 355 

sutete sutenu kokoro ^ t; ^ « »i> 

sutra 'ching/kyo 5, 9; see also 
resp. siitrasi Avatamsaka; 

Gandavvuha: Kegon; Prajndpdramitd 





sword: art of the 164^: bamboo 195, 
205 double ofiice of 89; as 
instrument of unconscious 146; of 
life and death 90; long hilt of 209; 
making 91; “man of the’* 129; of 
mystery 158^: mystical /shimmyd-ken 
151#, 162/; “of 

no-abiding mind/’ 170^, 179/, 200; 

“of no-sword” 195/; “one” 90; and 
Shinto 91; “soul of the samurai” 

89, 93; symbol of spirit 159; wooden 
205n, 211 

swordsmanship: as an art 141/; 
schools of 180/; Zen and 14/ 71, 


swordsraith 91 
symbolism 349 
symbolization 135 
symbols 99, 271-2 
symmetry 27 

syncretism: in art of tea 307; 

Japanese 57 

Ta-an, see Taian 

Tachikiri-geiko ^ tJI 195 

Ta-chu Hui-hai, see Daishu Ekai 
tactics 177; see also offensive 
Tada isshin no sute yo nite soro — * 

O ^ 5 K "C ioi« 

Ta Hsiieh^ see Daigaku 

tai (suchness) 103 

Taia, sw ord of ^ ppf ^Ij 161, 166# 

Taian/Ta-an 399 

C aUchi / taik^ oku (great limit) 

51/ 176 

Taiheiki ^ 2|S ^‘2, 82 

i'ai -hsu ^ 51 

laikyoku, see t'’ai-chi 

Taira family Zp 62 

Taira no Tadanori 394 

lai-sui Fa-chen, see Taizui Hdshin 

Taizui Hoshin/Ta-sui Fa-chen 
iC I'M ji 314n, 399-400 

Taizui, Mount 400 

Takano Hiromasa Sf iE 126ra 
Takano Shigeyoshi ^ 205-7 

Takeda Sliingen 5] jg 76/ 

80, 82; see also Harunobu 
Takuan 31n, 71n, 74, 91#, 

121, 127, 134, 200, pls. 35, 37b; on 
cha-no-yu 276-8; letter of 95#, 

102n. 143n, 147, 150, 161, 199; 

“Stv'ord of Taia” 166# 
takusu (saucer) -Jp 294 

talk 33 

Ta-mo, see Bodbidharma 

Tanemura |i|i' 328 

T’ang dtnasty/To S, 11, 42, 49, 

51, 122, 203 

tan-hsi/tan tari (unsettled) jjj 235n 

tan tari, see tan-hsi 

tanteki (unmistakableness) 177 

Tao/D6 ^ 11/ 104, 106n, 149, 158n, 
160, 183, 200, 304, 431/ and 
heathenism 54; Mencius on 11; and 
swordsmanship 132; Yag)m Tajima 
no kami on 151/ Yakusan on 37 
Tao, Science of the/tao-hsiao/tao-hsueh/ 
dugaku il; 48, 51 
Taoism/Taoists 3, 305, 307; Basho 
and 262; and Confucianism 48/ 
decline of 42; influence on Zen 4; 
and inteUectuaUzation 140; purity in 
281; Zen and. in China 21 
Tao-man 200, 235 
Tao Te Ching/ Dotoku-kyd ^ 

12, 235n, 305rt 
Tashiro Matazaemon 

irP! 282 n 

Ta-sui Fa-chen, see Taizui Hoshin 
tatamr 23 
ta-tao 310 



tathatd/ju/nyo/kono-mama 16n, 36, 
230, 347, 413, 424; see also suchness 
ta-Yung, see daiyu 
tea, art of 18, 41, 253, 271^; 

introduction into Japan 272, 300; 
and politics 318; Rikyu's definition 
of 280; warrior class and 301; see 
also cha-no-vu 

“teacher of one character” 285 
teacup 274 

tearoom: architecture of 26; 
description of 298/, 38 
preparation of 277/; pride in 277 
technique 169; importance of 131; 
insufficiency of 14, 113, 173. 212; 
training in 101; see also attack 
tei (perseverance), see chin 
Tei Isen, see CVeng I-ch’uan 
Tei Ko, see Ch’eng Hao 
Tei Meido, see Ch’eng Ming*tao 
teleology 375-6 
telepathy 212 
temari (handball) 373/ 
temples, Buddhist 26 
Tempyo period 29 

Tendai/T'ien-t’ai school 28, 29, 

49 <&:n, 63, 307, 335; Eisai and 62 
Tenno Dogo/T'ien-huang Tao-wu 

Tennyson, Alfred, Lord 264, 354 
tenrai, see tien-lai 
tenri, see t'ien-li 
tension 109. 143n 
Tentoku 388 

tenugui (to\Nel) 192 

tera-iri ^ 68n. 

terakoya 45 

Terutora )Eji 80; see also Uyesugi 


Te-shan, see Tokusan 

Tesshin-ryu (school) ^ 129 

Thinker, The 105n 

thinking, idle 133 

“Third man” 9 

thirty blows 167n 

“this” 399-401, 407 

Thoreau, Henry David 23, 342, 344 

thought, sudden awakening of 207 

“thrifty brush” 22 

thusness, see suchness; tathata 

T'ien-huang Tao-wii, see Tenno Dogo 

t ien-lai ; tenrai (heavenly music) 


tien-lijtenri (heavenly reason) 51 

T‘ien-t'ai school, see Tendai 
tiger 360, 403 

time 255, 359; St. Augustine on 401n; 

timeless 239, 241; utilization of 182 
Ting-lin Ssu, see Jorinji 
To, see T*ang 
tobikomu 213 
Toda Seigen ^ BB ^ V® 

TOfukuji ^ 171; Tsirvana 

picture at 379 
Tojun, see T'u-shun 
Tokaido railway 331 
TOkaiji ^ ^ 9in 
Tokimune, sec Hojo Tokimune 
Tokiyori, see Hojo Tokiyori 
toko/ioma (alcove) fy] 281, 299 
302, 325, 326 

Tokugawa 158; family 169; 
era/regime/shogunate 47, 56, 63, 

81n, 94n, 132, IH, 150n, 189, 307, 

309, 383 

Tokugawa lyemitsu Jl] ^ ^ 70, 

94n, 147, 169, 199 
Tokugawa lyeyasu, see lyeyasu 
Tokusan/Te-shan PL. A 
Tokyo 94n. 168. 337 
tomarann kokoro j];^ ^ ^ ^ illi' 

146, 158/1 



tomaru (stopping) j{;; 95 

Tonga Nyumon Ron '[§■ X P5 li 

tonton^ see tun-tun 
tori keri (firefly) 235 
Tosa 189 

Tosen/Tung-ch'uan 400 
Tosotsu, see Tusita 
Tosu 401 

Tosu Daido/T’ou-tzii Ta-t’ung 


Tosusan/T’ou Tzu-shan 401 
totality 27 

T’ou Tzu-shan, see Tosusan 
T'ou-tzfl Ta-t*ung, see Tosu Daido 
Tower Gate 26 
Toyotomi Hideyoshi ^ ^ 

280, 301-4, 318, 319-20, 325, 333, 391, 
PL. 59 

Tozan, see Tung-shan 
trade, with China 69 
training: fifty-two stages of 95; 
psychic 185; in swordsmanship 99, 
150-3; spiritual and practical 101; 
see also technique 

tranquillity 239/, 273, 283^: eternal 
305^, 355^; see also jaku; sabi; 

transcendence of dualism 96, 142 
transcendentalism, Buddhist 3, 34 
Transcendentalist movement 343 
transformation-body 425n 
transitoriness 252; of beauty 381 
transmission: non-scriptural 435; seal 
of 402<S:n; secret 135 
“Transmission of the Lamp,” see 
transparency ^Stff 
traveling 254-6 
trees 98/ 370 
true man, see man, true 

1 < 

truth(s): objective 254; ultimate 136n 
Tseng-tzu 277 

Tsukahara Bokuden 
13n, 73. 14r^ 

Tsukushi, sea of 66 
Ts’un-an Ling-yen, see Son-an Reigen 
Tsung-mi/Shumitsu ^ ^ 51 
Tung-ch’uan, see Tosen 
Tung-shan/Tozan pl. 45 
tun-tun f tonton (dull) 235 

T'u-shun/Tojun )]|^ 49n 

Tusita Heaven/Tosotsu ^ ^ 413 

Tzu-chik Tung-chien/Shichi Tsugan 


Tzu-ssu 44n 
tzu-tsai, see jizai 
Izzi-yn, see jiyu 

Vgetsu ^ ^ 339, 363 

ugliness, beauty in 24, 30 
Umedzu 210-12 

Ummon Monyen/Yun-men V^n-yen 
3-18-9, 356, PL. 22 

unattainable, the/anup(5/a6lid(i/pn-/e’o- 
ti/fukatoku pj 7 
unconscious 11, 70, 94, 102n, 109, 117, 
133, 140, 143n, 146, 162/ 182, 183, 
197, 225, 226, 241-3, 250-3, 281, 434, 
438; and art 220; collective 226, 
242; cosmic 165n, 192-3, 199, 226, 
242-3, 250; sword as instrument of 
146, 209: and swordplay 153: swords* 
man's, and psychoanalysis 96 
ungraspable, see unattainable 
“Unknown in the Art of Swordplay” 134 
unlimited, the 261 
unnecessaries, elimination of 271 
XJnzan Katatsuki ^ |Jj ^ ^ 323 
upddhydna 127: see also osho 
updya (means) 425n 
updyakausalya, see hoben 



ushin no shin 110 

uta 124n, 125, 224n, 388; see also 

utensils, for tea ceremony 24, 26, 317 
utsuru 103n 

Uyeno 190 
Uyesugi KensLin 
82, 188 

Vairocana ^ ^ ^ 90 

Vaisali H, ^ 411, 414 
Vajraraja, sword of 66n, 145 
Vasubandhu 49 &n 

verbalism, Zen 6-8, 16, 34 
victory 178; perfect 133 
vijhd 36n 
vijndna 242 
vijndnamdtra 49n 

vijfidptimdtra 12 In; see also Wei'shih 
Vimalakirti, see Yuima 
Vimalakirti Sutra/Yuima Kyo 17n, 
201 , 410 ^ 

vinegar, three sages tasting pl. 60 
violet 263, 266 
virtues, four 174 
visible and invisible 161 
vocabulary, Japanese 386 
void, see emptiness; sunyatd 

tva (harmony) ^[1 273, 304, 305n 

wabi 22 ^3,